A great Jewish composer of thousands of beautiful melodies was once asked to explain why his songs resonate so deeply with people. He answered that after he writes a song, he asks himself, does this song have the ability to bring someone to dance and does this have the ability to bring someone to cry. And if the answer is yes to both of those questions, only then will he release the song.
At the end of Moshe’s life he recites a Shirah, a song to the Jewish people, known as Haazinu, which is the name of this week’s Torah portion. The commentaries teach us that hidden in the words of this song is the story of the Jewish people as well as the story of every individual from the beginning of time until the coming of the Messiah.
Just like a moving song has its high notes and low notes, its minor chords and major chords, and it is the ups and downs of the melody that truly open up our hearts, so too the story of the Jewish people is so powerfully moving because of its extreme highs points and terribly low points. The song of the Jewish nation is certainly a song that you can dance to and that you can cry to.
The song of Haazinu is a moving ballad filled with both sadness and joy, bearing witness to the perfect, faultless, justice of Hashem. "The Rock -- His work is perfect, for all His ways are Justice, the G-d of faithfulness in Whom there is no wrong, He is righteous and straight!"
To be a Jew means to be ready to embrace the full experience of this symphony. The Torah way of life certainly leads us down a path of life that is truly pleasurable. It shows us how to get the maximum pleasure out of this world by informing us which kinds of enjoyment elevate us and which kinds of enjoyment destroy us. It gives us the tools to improve our relationships with our spouses, parents, children and loved ones. It infuses our life with meaning and a higher purpose and helps us transcend the pettiness of the mundane. It brings together community and makes us feel part of something incredible.
But there is much pain as well in living a Jewish life. There is isolation. There is loneliness. There is inner strife. There is the awareness that there is Master of the World who is looking at us very closely and making sure that we don’t forget that we are in fact different than the rest of the world.
The Song of Haazinu is read during this holy time of year when we are doing our annual soul searching, to strengthen us to join in the singing, to embrace both the highs and the lows, to be ready to dance but also be ready to cry as we discover our own personal notes within this symphony of Jewish history.
As we enter into the joyous days of Sukkot and Simchat Torah next week, let’s sing our songs with all our hearts and all our souls. The song is for YOU!