Shabbat Shirah: The Shabbat of Song

13 Feb 2013

The Shabbat on which the Parsha of Beshalach is read is called Shabbat Shira, because it contains the song sung by Israel after the splitting of the Red Sea.

Moshe and the people of Israel sang this song in perfect faith. They sang not because of the impact and impression of the miracles they had seen. And the Midrash records that “the Israelite handmaiden at the Sea saw what Yechezkel ben Boozi (a great Prophet of Israel) did not see in his Vision of the “Chariot” (a mystical vision in which the Prophet was allowed an unusually close “view” of G-d and the Angels).” That emotion, which comes from a momentary impression, is transitory, whereas true faith is enduring.

An Extract from the Shirah

The Enemy’s Intentions and his Fate

“The enemy declared: ‘I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide plunder; I will satisfy my lust with them; I will unsheathe my sword, my hand will utterly destroy them.’

You blew with Your Breath – the sea covered them; the mighty ones sank like lead in the waters.

Who is like You among the heavenly powers, HASHEM! Who is like You, mighty in holiness, too awesome for praise, doing wonders!

You stretched out Your Hand – the earth swallowed them.

You guided in Your kindness this People that You redeemed; You led them with Your might to Your holy abode.

Nations heard – they were agitated; convulsive terror gripped the inhabitants of Philistia.

Then the chieftains of Edom were confounded, the mighty ones of Moav were seized by trembling; all the inhabitants of Canaan melted like wax.

May fear and terror befall them, at the greatness of Your Arm may they be silent as a stone; until Your People passes, O G-d; until this nation passes, which You have acquired.

You shall bring them and implant them on the mountain of Your heritage, the foundation of Your dwelling-place, which You, Hashem, have made; the Sanctuary, my L-rd, that You have established.

Hashem shall reign for all Eternity!

Hashem shall reign for all Eternity!”

A Comment on the Shirah

No creature ever uttered a more beautiful song to God than this one. The song is therefore, beloved to Israel. They recite it daily, and they read it from the Torah publicly on one Shabbat each year, and on the Seventh Day of Pesach – when we commemorate the Miracle of the Splitting of the Red Sea – with a special melody, and with great rejoicing. Some follow the custom of standing when it is read. Special honor is accorded this Shabbat and it is crowned by a special name: “Shabbat Shirah” (“The Sabbath of Song”).