This Shabbat is Shabbat Shira, the “Shabbat of the Song”, the Shabbat on which we read Shirat Hayam, the Song of the Sea from the book of Exodus. In honor of the “Shabbat of Song, I share a personal experience which, while very simple and brief, points to the power a song can have.
This past summer, we traveled to North Carolina for a family wedding. With most of a day to do a bit of sightseeing, we drove to Durham to see the Duke University campus.
After driving through the beautiful campus, we drove into Durham and found that the weekly Farmers’ and Artisan’s Market was taking place. We wandered through the stalls for a while, admiring the produce and chatting with some of the sellers.
As we were leaving, we noticed a store which offered various handmade products from different artisans. The store was very pleasant with music from “our era” (the 60s and 70s) playing over the sound system. We spent some time in the store admiring the different pieces and, finding one that we liked, we went up to the counter to purchase it.
The man behind the counter, whose accent and dress reflected his Caribbean background, was clearly busy with running the store and, while smiling sweetly, did not say much to us as we gave him the item. He took it and began to write out the receipt.
As we waited, the unmistakable introduction to a somewhat well-known song from the 70s filled the room. I immediately smiled and turned to my wife and as the introduction ended, sang “O-o-h Child, things are going to get easier”…
All of a sudden, I realized I wasn’t the only one singing. The man behind the counter had started singing at the same time and looked up to see who was joining him in the duet. He looked at me with his smile growing wider and we both sang a line or two together in rather perfect harmony.
He grabbed my hand, shook it hard and was still smiling when we left the store.
It was such a simple moment. But, it was one I will never forget.
A song has the power to lift our spirits, to inspire us, to bring people together, including people from completely different backgrounds who met briefly and created a simple, beautiful memory which warms my heart as I remember it on this cold winter day.
May the songs we sing always warm our hearts and souls.