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Beshalach: Music Musings and Dance Moves

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This helps us understand a Medrash Shocher Tov (1:2) which states that just as Moshe Rabbeinu gave us Five Books of the Torah, Dovid HaMelech gave us Five Books of Tehillim. The Medrash is not merely making a connection of “fives.” More likely, the Medrash is teaching that just as Moshe taught us the intellectual aspects of Torah, Dovid gave us the emotional growth we can experience in Torah. Dovid did this through the power of Tehillim, which was composed as music.

Music often leads to dance.

Almost everyone likes to dance. Most cultures use dancing as part of rituals to express happiness. Dancing is also something done for recreation and to bring an individual joy. Why were we created this way?

Let’s think about what dancing actually is. When we dance, we move our bodies more rapidly and quickly than normal. Dancing is essentially the same kind of activity as exercise. Scientific studies have proven that when we exercise, stress hormones are decreased and endorphins are increased. What are endorphins? They are the body’s natural “feel good” chemicals, and when they are released we experience a natural mood boost. Exercise also releases adrenaline and other natural chemicals which work together to make us feel good.

This is what dancing and exercise does. But why? Why is it that we get happier the more we move our bodies?

Movement equals life. The more you move, the more you really live.

HaKadosh Baruch Hu created us with a need to move our bodies, to exercise, to get our heart rates up, in order to maintain good health. He gave us life, but He wants us to add more life with movement.

Movement gets the blood flowing and the heart rate up. The body becomes more alive. This is why we dance we when are happy. When feeling joy, we feel the need to experience life more intensely – and so we dance. Dancing and exercise releases those endorphins because we are injecting ourselves with movement and life.

This is why dancing is called rikud, from the word meraked, to sift. When we dance we are sifting life from the world around us and injecting it into ourselves.

Shiras Devorah reminds us of the power and importance of music and dance in Jewish life.

And these are some of the happenings in this week’s haftorah.

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