This week's portion: Song of the Sea
February 07, 2006
Another week, another Torah portion. This week we're reading parashat beshalach, which contains one of the most visually beautiful passages in Torah: the Song of the Sea. That's what I'll be reading in shul this Shabbat, and that's what I chose to write about for Radical Torah this week.
Shirat Ha-Yam is both visually and verbally breathtaking. Some compare it to brickwork, seeing in its shape the patterns of stone on stone that suggest how Torah can be foundational. Others consider it to evoke the ocean crossing, with ragged waves drawing back on both sides and a column of Israelites in the middle.
From the Jerusalem Talmud comes the metaphor that Torah is written in black fire on white fire. Some modern-day midrashists suggest that the text's missing stories exist for us to extrapolate from the white fire, the spaces between the visible words. If that's so, then this poem is redolent with untold stories -- or maybe the spaces in the text are openings for our own words of praise. Before we get to the white spaces, though, the black text is worth exploring...
If you're so inclined, head over and read my whole post: Reading the song, singing our own.