D.I.Y. Song of the Sea

This week

, the week of Shabbat Shirah, we read the Song of the Sea. (Exodus 15:1-21.)

The Children of Israel stood at the Red Sea; Pharaoh's army closed in. Deep water ahead. Horses, chariots, spears behind. Every Israelite there thought this was the last moment before death. And, after giving up on the possibility of defense or escape, after giving up on the certainty and habit of living, the unexpected, the unexpectable, happened: a miracle. Or a low tide that hadn't been properly forecast. However it happened, the possibility and promise of life came flooding back. They crossed - on dry land or hoisted by angels; it is unclear. On the other side, after the waters surged into place and the pursuing army was destroyed, there was a terrible silence. And then Moshe and the people began to sing a song. The Song of the Sea. It came to all of their lips simultaneously. They sang, and then Miriam and the women took drums and danced. This celebration was necessary before the business of the next journey could begin.

So what is your Song of the Sea? What is the danger that you escaped? The illness you recovered from? The crisis that was resolved or averted? The thing that didn't end well, that stung, but nonetheless you survived? The decision that brought you to where you are, but in retrospect you see it could have gone terribly wrong?

All these things are important. Worth noticing. Worth celebrating.

So here is a Do-It-Yourself Song of the Sea, to help you do just that.


  • Answer Questions 1 through 5 on a separate screen or sheet of paper.
  • Read the subsequent words of celebration, plunking in your answers for Questions 1 through 5 as directed.
  • Modify or improvise to make it fit and to make it one degree more honest.
  • When you finish reading it, go back and read it again more fluently.
  • Add some melody or a sing-song tone of voice that you make up.
  • Keep singing the melody, even after you're done with the words.
  • Take a drum or a tambourine or a saucepan and wooden spoon and dance around your house, singing and drumming. Throw key words back in if you wish.
  • Repeat the whole exercise whenever you escape danger or come through a hard time. At the very least, do this once a year on Shabbat Shirah.


1. Describe, in one sentence, a danger you escaped.



2. Name a personal quality or strength that enabled you to escape this danger.


3. Name another personal quality that enabled you to escape this danger.


4. Name an ancestor or mentor or favorite great aunt who shared those qualities.


5. What is the most surprising part about escaping this danger or coming through this experience?



I sing a song to Adonai the triumphant, for ______1_______.

_____2______ and _____3______ really saved my ass. And I am grateful.

Because those qualities in me didn't come from nowhere. Adonai gifted them to me. Just as Adonai gifted them to _____4______.

_____2______ and _____3______ are two of Adonai's faces. And Yah is Adonai's name.

There was a moment when I feared I was lost. A moment where I thought there was no escape. But despite the odds, _____5______.

I will surely remember this experience. But the pain and fear of it shall be absorbed into the great waters of my life until they are ripples on a gentle sea under a warm and soothing breeze.

This survival is glorious. This survival is holy. Who is like you, Adonai, who holds my head above water?

When I next meet such a danger, it will be different. It will turn tail and flee. Because I am stronger. I have crossed the sea and made it to the other side.

This is my song of gladness. This is my dance of joy. This is my gentle victory lap. These are my humble thanks.

I sing a song to Adonai the triumphant, for ______1_______.

And my journey continues.