April 17, 2024
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April 17, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

This Shabbos, we celebrate Shabbat Shira—recalling the song Klal Yisrael sang after miraculously crossing the sea to freedom. Song erupts spontaneously, “ala beleebo sheyashir” (Rashi, Shemos 15:1) emanating from a deepened recognition and feeling of faith (see Shir Hashirim, 4:8, “tashuri meirosh amanah”). Song also forges a more lasting connection, as the Torah (Devarim 31:21) says about a later song, “This song shall speak as a witness, for it will not be forgotten from the mouths of their children.”

When the Iron Curtain fell, friends of ours hosted a young family of recent immigrants—whom they had befriended—at their seder. The family brought their elderly grandmother who spent the bulk of the evening sitting off to the side, disengaged and rather cold to the proceedings. When they reached the closing segment of the seder—the last series of poems that are sung with fairly universal tunes—the Bubbe, suddenly, perked up and began to join in with the singing. The words of the seder and its rituals could not penetrate the wall around her heart, but the songs of her youth did. This woman had been effectively separated from the faith of her childhood for the 70 years of communism, but the song of faith endured.

This idea is conveyed by the striking contrast between our commemorations of the beginning of redemption on the first night of Pesach and its culmination on its 7th day. We begin the holiday with the mitzvah of Haggadah, teaching our children through words and actions the story of our redemption. We conclude the Yom Tov by singing Az Yashir, the song of redemption—the mechanism that will ensure that those lessons will be fully absorbed into our family’s very identity, never to be forgotten.

Each of us will be so much more connected to our faith and identity, when we move from the words of faith to its song—by striving to fill our lives and our homes with the emotional, joyous and uplifting expressions of our core beliefs and identity. “For it will not be forgotten from the mouths of their children.”


Rabbi Moshe Hauer is executive vice president of the Orthodox Union (OU), the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization.

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