True Unity of Faith and Worship

Yael Eckstein  |  January 12, 2022

Eckstein family at home

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD … – Exodus 15:1

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Beshalach, which means “when he sent them away,” from Exodus 13:17–17:16.

One of the most beautiful of all our Jewish customs is called zemirot. Zemirot are songs of praise to God that we sing during the meals on Shabbat, the Sabbath, each week. These songs are poems and hymns written over the centuries that have been sung by Jewish families for generations.

By growing up singing zemirot around the Shabbat table, Jewish families develop their own unique styles and harmonies. But more than the harmonies, there is a bond that is formed by singing together. I took it for granted as a child when everyone was home all the time. But now that my siblings and I are grown, and we each have our own families, I cherish those memories of Shabbat table singing, even as I see those same bonds forming with my own children.

Group singing is a powerful spiritual experience. If we talk at the same time, it only leads to confusion. But when we sing together as a group, we share a simultaneous expression of whatever we are singing about. And when we sing about God, when our voices are singing the same words at the same time, we experience true unity of faith and worship.

True Unity of Faith and Worship

In this week’s Torah portion the children of Israel sang a song of praise to God as they crossed the Red Sea on dry land. I want to show you something beautiful from the Hebrew of the Bible that goes unnoticed in the English translation. The verse introducing the Song at the Sea states, “Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD” (Exodus 15:1).

In English, the word “sang” would be the same whether the verse was speaking about an individual or a group. Whether singular, “He sang,” or plural, “They sang,” the word “sang” is the same. But in Hebrew, there would be a different word for singular or plural.

Here in this verse, the word “sang,” yashir, is in the singular even though the verse names “Moses and the Israelites” as those who sang. Grammatically, the word should have been yashiru, the plural form of “sang.”

The Bible teaches us a powerful lesson about singing together. When many voices join together to sing the praises of God, the collective voice is singular, not plural. Singing together spiritually unites us as one, and we can experience true unity in faith and worship

Your Turn:

Have you ever sang together with your family? Or with friends who share your faith? Get together with friends or family to sing to God together.

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