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Mailing Address Only: 84 Senior Place Fairfield, CT 06825 | Phone: 203.583-9142 | Email: info@ahavathachim.org

Congregation Ahavath Achim logo Congregation Ahavath Achim

A Modern Orthodox Synagogue

Dear Friend,
This week's parasha, Parashat Beshalach, finds the Jewish people caught between the proverbial rock and hard place.  After agreeing to release the Israelites from their slavery and allow them to leave Egypt, the Pharaoh has a drastic and abrupt change of heart.  Regretting his decision to emancipate his enslaved people, the Pharaoh quickly mobilizes his chariot-based army and pursues the recently-freed Jewish people.  Caught between the Egyptian army behind them and the sea before them, the Almighty performs a most-dramatic miracle for His people:  He splits the waters of the sea.  The Jewish people pass through the dry land in the middle with walls of water miraculously suspended on either side.  When Pharaoh and his legions follow the Israelites into the sea, the waters return to their original form, crashing down on the Egyptian army and creating a watery grave for them and their chariots.
 
The Jewish people- following the cue of Moshe and Miriam- respond to this fantastical chain of events in a most intriguing manner: they sing a song, a shirah, which lends itself to the special title of the Shabbat on which Parashat Beshalach is read: "Shabbat Shirah"- the Sabbath of the Song.  That "song" is of course the Song at the Sea, Shirat HaYam, sometimes colloquially referred to by its opening words: "Az Yashir".  The special place that this song occupies in the Jewish heart and mind may be evidenced by the fact that it was eventually incorporated into the opening section of the Shacharit prayer, adopted for daily ritual recital seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year.
 
A central declaration of the "Az Yashir" prayer is "מי כמוך באלים ה', מי כמוך נאדר בקודשת נורא תהילות עושה פלא": "Who is like You among the powers, who is like You enclothed in holiness, awesome in praise, doing wonders."  In this statement, the Jewish people declare the holy mightiness of their God- in reaction to the grandiose miracle at the sea.  However, the reality is that it should not take a marvelous supernatural event in order for us to recognize the works of the Almighty.  Rather, even in our mundane day-to-day lives we should take time to acknowledge God's greatness and the constant (extra)ordinary wonders that He is performing for us constantly. 
 
I look forward to expanding on this theme when we meet together for services this Shabbat (Saturday) morning at Mozaic Senior Life (Jewish Senior Services), 4200 Park Avenue, Bridgeport Ct.  Services begin at 9:30 am in Bennett Hall.  I hope to see you there...
 
Shabbat Shalom,
 
Rabbi Peretz Robinson