The Spirituality of Song — Ha’azinu

Guitar at sunriseMoses completes his teachings with a song. Singing and chanting are an integral part of religious ritual and education. Why? Perhaps music touches a different part of our brain, different memory circuits that are about wholeness and connection. Faith, for Rabbi Sacks, is more like a melody than a science — it is finding the part in the whole.

Sharon Salzberg, a Buddhist of Jewish descent writes:

Faith is the quality of the heart that impels us to seek what is constant and whole. The sense of connection can be found in vastly different ways: in classically religious pursuits or ones that are completely secular; in music or art, meditation or service to others; with groups in city rooms or in the forest on one’s own. …

Conventional wisdom says the opposite of faith is doubt. But doubt, applied in the right way—as curiosity and a willingness to question—can enrich and enliven our faith. I believe the true opposite of faith is the sundering of connection, the desolate certainty that the cherry trees will never bloom again. It is the experience of utter isolation, or despair.

In contrast, faith helps us approach life with a sense of possibility rather than foreboding or helplessness. It dares us to imagine what we might be capable of. It enables us to reach for what we don’t yet know with a measure of courage. It gives us resilience in times of difficulty, and the ability to respond to challenges without feeling trapped. My own faith has taught me that whatever disappointments I might meet, I can try again, trust again, and love again.

See Rabbi Sacks’s Dvar