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Wake up and Sing

By Rabbi Mino Labi

This Shabbat is known as Shabbat Shira, the Shabbat of Song. This Shabbat gets its name from the fact that this week, we read the Song of the Sea in the Parasha and then Devorah’s song in the Haftara. It’s a Shabbat filled with singing songs of praises to God.

I would like to focus on one verse in the Song of Devorah. It is a verse that seems out of place. Devorah was singing a song of praise to God just after a miraculous victory against the army commanded by Sisera, who had been oppressing the nation of Israel. In the middle of her song Devorah cried out, “Wake up, wake up, Devorah! Wake up, wake up, break out in song!”

Wait a second – wasn’t she already singing? According to Jewish tradition, Devorah had briefly lost her ability to prophesize and sing because a few verses earlier, she said, “. . . they held back until I, Devorah, arose, until I arose, a mother in Israel.” This statement wasn’t at all humble and so God spirit left Devorah. She corrected herself and God’s spirit returned.

However, taken from a different angle, this verse has a message for us all. It’s no wonder that it is borrowed and taken into our Erev Shabbat prayer service in a paragraph that reads, “Wake up! Wake up! For your light has come, rise up and shine; Awaken, awaken, utter a song, the glory of God is revealed upon you.” This paragraph is a combination of our verse from Devorah’s song with Isaiah 60:1, which reads, “Arise, arise, for your light  has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.” Together, the message for us is to wake up and see the glory of God that is all around us.

Most people go through their lives like this: Wake up, dress, eat, go to work, work, come home, run errands, eat, watch television, and sleep. Repeat. And repeat and repeat and repeat. It’s so easy for life to become mechanical. It’s so easy to fall into a deep spiritual sleep. But on every Shabbat, and especially on this Shabbat, we are reminded to wake up and sing. Wake up and see the glory of God all around us! We live in an amazing world, filled with miracles, both hidden and revealed. We have so many blessings and things for which to be thankful.

This Shabbat, I encourage us all to wake up and recognize the glory of God in our lives. Wake up to the blessings. Wake up to the miracles. Break out in song and sing praises to the Al-Mighty.

Shabbat Shalom.

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