Parashat Vayelekh

The Song of Humanity

Song can remind us of our authentic selves and our genuine power.

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How then do we transform ourselves to reveal God's face, God's self, in the world? What enables us to lead a life where our actions are manifestations of our core values?  

The Power of Song

Our parashah's answer, remarkably, is song. God instructs "therefore, write down this song and teach it to the people of Israel, put it in their mouths so that this song will be a witness for Me before the people of Israel (Deut. 31:19)."

Song here is meant to awaken the people of Israel, to help them reconnect to their essentially pure nature, the fundamental meaning of teshuvah, and so enable them to live out their true commitments. The true song enables the people of Israel to once again find God's face; to turn away from the subtle idols of wealth and greed and to bring God's holiness into their midst.

In Rebbe Nahman of Bratslav's terms, it is only through this song of faith, this assertion of meaning, hope, and possibility, that one leaps over the abyss of God's hiddeness to encounter the truth of anokhi--I-ness, that is both God's true face and our own.

It is easy to get lost, to find ourselves unwittingly acting in ways estranged from our fundamental principles. Yet we can find our way to a life that embodies those core beliefs by manifesting our true self through the hope, confidence, and power, which is the nature of song. Song, that fundamental assertion of joy and meaning, can remind us of our authentic self and our genuine power. Through it, we can transform the way we live and fully embrace our true nature--our potential to transform ourselves and the world. In so doing, the deep anokhi, the true faces of both ourselves and God, will be revealed.

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Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels

Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels teaches Jewish thought and mysticism at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem.