Dancing and Sorting

The following text by Reb Zalman is from this week’s Torah portion, Shabbos Beshalach. (Click here for Hebrew/English version). [Notes by Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor]:

And Miriam answered them.” (Exodus 15:21).

[NOTE:  The traditional interpretation of this text is that Miriam and the women respond with another song.  Here, Reb Zalman reads the Hebrew literally as a mamash answer to a question.]

What question did she answer?  It was the question: “How are they reaching for that inspired song and giving of thanks, for thanking Hashem regarding the miracle of the splitting of the waters?”

Ah!  The answer is spoken through the feet, in dance.   (And working it through the dances, they can sort out much (Jeremiah 15:19) to bring forth “worthy, not worthless” words, for regarding the laws of Shabbos, ham’raked / one sifts through them.)

[NOTE:  A secondary meaning of reishkufdaledרקד, to dance, is “to sift”.  So we can sometimes dance out our prayers.  And we can also dance with the laws of Shabbos as we sort things out. 

This emphasizes praying on all the levels, not just the intellectual one.  The prayer will be raised to a higher place if the body is engaged.  (Oy, there was some great praying at the last Aleph Kallah with Rabbis and dancers Diane Elliot, Shefa Gold,  Julie Leavitt and Nadya Gross!)]

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
from Yishmiru Daat (2009 revision),
Parashat Beshalach,” p. 32

2 Responses to “Dancing and Sorting”

  1. Jeff Marker Says:

    A wonderful Torah. My additional peirush (interpretation)

    When we engage with the halachic system seriously, it is a dance. It is not a simple linear process, so a proper understanding of Shabbat rules (and others) is a dance, kinetic, to move us forward in our spiritual quest. The steps may be different from previous generations.

  2. Gloria (Gal-or-Ya) Krasno Says:

    Dear Reb Zalman, Gabbai Seth, R. Jeff, and all,

    O how my heart dances!
    Sifting through the connections,
    through the dance of reish, kuf, daled

    There is the 200-100-4
    combining to a holy seven
    dancing the Shabbos

    The enigmatic kuf, (the aleph ,\’ to the 100th degree)
    turning ’round and ’round
    energizing aleph ,\’ -26/ endlessly

    Veiled/ surrounded/ by reish and daled
    reish, the macro 200 body of bet
    moving through doorway daled, oepning all 4 directions

    Dancing . . .


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