And the Israelites Burst into Song!
In this week's Torah portion, B'shalach, the Israelites escape from Egypt across the sea. After that great event, it says, "And Israel saw the great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians; and the people feared the Lord, and believed in the Lord, and His servant Moses." Then, the Torah recounts, the Israelites burst into song.
There were many miracles the Israelites experienced both before and after this moment; why did they burst into song at that moment? According to Rabbi Yisrael of Rizhin, "It was not for the miracle of the splitting of the sea that they sang praise of God, but because the splitting of the sea brought them to perfect faith in God – 'they believed in God,' and that is why they sang." Song as a by-product of faith is a fascinating take on the situation. The joy of knowing you have faith leads to artistic expression and celebration.
At Camp Ramah, we believe that the arts are compelling entry points into Jewish expression. We can engage kids in Judaism through art, leading to deeper personal exploration and growth. However, the idea that music is the result of the Jewish experience also holds true. One of the amazing things about camp is how much spontaneous singing and dancing happens. Just watch the yearbook video and you will see people breaking out in joyous dance and song. Perhaps song is on the lips of our campers and staff so readily because at camp we have created a community that is so connected to God and Judaism. Our heightened spiritual involvement prompts us to burst out singing. Now that's joyous Jewish living at its best!