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There are many different types of songs familiar to human society. There are songs of triumph and of resignation and acceptance. There are songs of joy and love and anthems of hatred and violence. There are songs of nostalgia and remembrance and songs of hope in future greatness. There are also hymns of faith and melodies of rebellion and change. In short, in human history, one can almost identify with the events of the time by hearing the music and songs that were then prevalent and popular.

In this week's Torah reading, we encounter a song that is all of the above and yet none of the above. It is an ancient song recited or sung by the Jewish people on a daily basis for over 3300. At its heart, it is a song of faith, of belief, and survival and of the promise of eternal greatness and continuing challenge. At the beginning of Jewish history, it already establishes the equation of the relationship of the Jewish people to the rest of the world and to historical events.
Because of its emphasis on the eternity of God and of Israel, it is not confined to any one time period or historical era. It was a song sung at a particular moment in time but its essence and message is timeless and constantly pertinent and relevant. The words of the song delineate the struggle for survival in which Jews will always be engaged, against enemies who never completely disappear but rather morph into new forms and ideologies. The most uplifting message of the song is its timelessness and relevance. The most depressing part of the song is also its timelessness and relevance.
There is another song recorded for us in the Torah that is similar to this type of message and outlook. It is the song that concludes the great oration of Moshe to the Jewish people in the last days of his life in the desert of Sinai. That song, which appears in parshat Haazinu is also a song of survival and eventual success in the never-ending struggle that we call Jewish history. This week's song and that later song of Moshe really constitute the bookends of the Torah and of the Jewish story generally.
We are bidden to know and understand these songs and their import. We are to teach them to our children and to all later generations of the Jewish people. These songs are to be as unforgettable thousands of years from now as they were when first composed and sung. Jews who have somehow forgotten these songs – or perhaps even worse, never knew of their existence – will find it difficult to identify with God's Torah, His people and His holy land.
Song is a tool for remembrance and prophecy – for an appreciation of our wondrous past and a commitment to our promised and even more spectacular, future. That is why we are bidden to recite it day in and day out, in all times and places, for it contains within it the essential kernel of Jewish life and existence. We should therefore pay attention carefully to its words and message and sing along with Moshe in this great anthem of Jewish and world history.
Shabbat shalom
Rabbi Berel Wein

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