Not everyone experiences religious practice the same way. We all sometimes feel that it is hard to access God, spiritual connectedness and meaning. That is why it is very interesting that God instructs Moshe to teach a poem to the people right before he dies so they can sing it when they need comfort when they feel despair in the future. Additionally, this poem is to serve as a way back when the Israelites have sinned and feel that God has abandoned them.
At first this feels strange. The singing of a poem when you most feel like crying in pain. However, this poem is only sung when the Israelites have exhausted their usual means of worship and prayer. The traditional avenues are closed to them. They need a different access point back to their faith and God.
One lesson of this week’s Torah portion, Vayelech, is that there are different entry points into Judaism and to access God and spirituality. Song tends to touch our souls and awaken us – much like the shofar we just heard on Rosh Hashanah. At Camp Ramah, where I work and places like Schechter Boston it is important to provide a variety of access points to Judaism. These can include Torah study and prayer as well as social action and community service. Additionally, we can access our spirituality through song, dance, art and physical activity. This High Holy Day season let’s all be open to trying new and different ways to bring meaning to our Jewish lives. Shana Tovah!
Rabbi Ed Gelb, Camp Ramah