A Shabbat of Song: Shabbat Shira

Question

Dear Rabbi, what is the meaning of “Shabbat Shira” that I see on my Jewish calendar? Thanks!

, , 2 months

Answers

  1. On this Shabbat we read about the splitting of the Red Sea at the time of the Exodus of the Jewish People from Egypt. This Shabbat has traditionally acquired the name of Shabbat Shira — which means “Shabbat of Song” — to remember and honor the special “Song of the Sea” that the Jewish People sang at that time. (This Song of the Sea, known in Hebrew as Shirat Hayam, is found in the Torah in the weekly portion called Beshalach, in Exodus (15:1-19).

    Moshe and all of the people of the Jewish nation sang this song with perfect faith. They did not sing only as a result of the miracles they had experienced. Of course they were thankful to God for the miracles and praised Him. However, the Midrash says that even the “least of the Jewish People” saw at the Sea what the prophet Yechezkel was not able to see in his “Vision of the Chariot,” a mystical prophecy in which he was granted an unusually close “view” of God and His angels. The emotion of gratitude for the miracle of being saved is based on a momentary impression and is transitory. The faith of the Jewish People — evidenced in their ability to see a wondrous prophecy — endures for eternity.

    No creature has ever sung a more beautiful song to God than this one. Therefore, this song is especially beloved and dear to the Jewish People. It is recited daily and is read publicly from the Torah on one Shabbat every year. It is also read on the Seventh Day of Pesach, when we commemorate the miracle of the splitting of the Red Sea, with a special melody and great rejoicing. Many have the custom to stand when it is read from the Torah. It is no wonder that such special honor is accorded to this Shabbat and that it is crowned by the special name of “Shabbat Shirah” — “The Shabbat of Song”.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team