Shabbat Shirah

January 30, 2015

Every week, Jody Hirsh, the JCC's Judaic Education Director, provides a Judaic message that is featured at the top of the JCC's weekly email newsletter. Below is the Shabbat message for Friday, January 30, 2015. 

Shabbat Shirah

Traditionally, each Shabbat is referred to by the name of the Torah Portion that is read on that Shabbat. So... this Shabbat is often referred to as “Shabbat Beshallach,” since that portion, Beshallach, (Exodus 13:17-17:16) will be read this Shabbat. However... some Shabbatot (plural of Shabbat) are named also by something that happens in the Torah Portion. Beshallach contains the episode of crossing the Red Sea in which we are told: Az yashir Moshe uV’nei Yisrael et HaShirah hazot (Then Moses and the Children of Israel sang this song). The word “song” used in this context is “shirah.” Therefore, this Shabbat is called “Shabbat Shirah.” In addition, there are traditional stories that during the splitting of the Red Sea, the birds flew overhead, and the crossing through the sea was accompanied by the singing of birds – another reason to call this Shabbat, the Shabbat of Song. And... since this Shabbat is always in midwinter -- in Eastern Europe, the custom arose that this was a Shabbat in which people went out to scatter seeds, especially kasha (buckwheat) to feed the birds!

So... why don’t you try feeding the birds on this Shabbat? It’s a tradition! (Some Jews in Eastern Europe fed the birds on Shabbat Afternoon. Some, worried about the Shabbat Prohibition of carrying on the Sabbath, put the food for the birds out before sunset on Friday.) And... maybe you should eat some kasha on this special Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom!