David sang to the LORD the words of this song when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. 2 Samuel 22:1
The Torah portion for this week is Ha'azinu, which means "listen," from Deuteronomy 32:1-52, and the Haftorah is from 2 Samuel 22:1-51.
There is an amazing orchestra in Cateura, Paraguay, a town built mainly on a landfill. In this unlikely place for music to sprout, an educator had an idea to provide music lessons for children in order to keep them away from drugs and other troubles that plagued the area. The problem was that when the program began, there were only five violins and 50 students.
Creativity kicked in, and a family who made their living from going through trash and making things usable in order to sell them decided to create musical instruments from the garbage. And so it began. Violins, flutes, bass instruments and everything else you might need for a full orchestra were created out of trash, and the results are now the subject of a moving documentary.
When I think of the music that emanates from those recycled instruments, I think that they capture the essence of music best. Music takes our most joyful emotions and our darkest sentiments, our high notes and low notes, and transforms them into something magical. It transforms garbage into beauty and gives shape to what seems to have lost its form.
This week's Torah reading is comprised of the Song of Moses. This song, sung on the last day of his life, foretold the dark periods that the children of Israel would go through and also the salvation that would come at the end. The song references Moses's own mistake and his impending death. It combines the good and the bad, giving it shape and form, beauty and depth.
Similarly, in our Haftorah, we read David's Song of Praise. Also composed toward the end of his life, this song reflects upon the difficulties in David's life and also recalls God's salvation. On a broader scale, David's song spoke of the long exile of the Jewish people, but also foreshadowed the coming of the messianic era. Like Moses, David put it all together to create a cohesive song.
Each of our lives is a song as well. There is good and bad, high notes and low notes. Sometimes our lives can even seem like a big heap of trash. But as our two readings show, it's all part of a glorious symphony that when put together and given form will result in a sound of beauty the sound of our lives.
Today, I want to encourage us all to enjoy our life's song. Even when things seem incoherent and all harmony seems lost, know that in the greater scheme of things, it's all part of our personal story, our personal song.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President