"Wake up, wake up, Deborah! Wake up, wake up, break out in song! Arise, Barak! Take captive your captives, son of Abinoam.'" - Judges 5:12
The Torah portion for this week is Beshalach, which means "when he sent them away," from Exodus 13:17-17:16, and the Haftorah is from Judges 4:4-5:31.
This Sabbath is known in the Jewish tradition as Shabbat Shira, the Sabbath of Song. This Sabbath gets its name from the fact that this week, we read the Song of the Sea in the Torah reading and then Deborah's song in the Haftorah reading. It's a Sabbath replete with singing songs of praises to God.
I'd like to focus on one verse in the Song of Deborah. It is a verse that seems out of place. Deborah was singing a song of praise to God just after a miraculous victory against the army commanded by Sisera, who had been oppressing the children of Israel. In the middle of her song Deborah cried out, "Wake up, wake up, Deborah! Wake up, wake up, break out in song!"
Wait a second - wasn't she already singing? According to Jewish tradition, Deborah had briefly lost her ability to prophesize and sing because a few verses earlier, in verse 7, she said, ". . . they held back until I, Deborah, arose, until I arose, a mother in Israel." This statement wasn't all that humble and so God's spirit left Deborah. 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 Friday night 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 Deborah's song with Isaiah 60:1, which reads, "Arise, shine, 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 Sabbath, and especially on this Sabbath, 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 Saturday, 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 Lord!
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President