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{Originally posted at Rabbi Weinberg’s website, The Foundation Stone)

Even as Moses reviews the story of the people he led out of Egypt, he hints at his own story, a story that at one point, leads him to break out in song: ” Az, Then Moses set aside three Cities of Refuge on the bank of the Jordan (Deuteronomy 4:41).” The Ba’alei Tosafot point out that “Az” is always the introduction to an inspired song. The Song of the Sea begins with “Az (Exodus 15:1). The Song of the Well, too, begins with “Az, (Numbers 21:17).”

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So why, ask the Ba’alei Tosafot, did Moses break out in song when he set aside Cities of Refuge for killers?

We wonder why Cities of Refuge stimulated song, when the Shema and the retelling of Revelation and the Ten Statements did not?

More than a century earlier, Moses needed his own City of Refuge. He killed an Egyptian taskmaster (Exodus 2:12), and ran, exiled, from Egypt to Midian. It was in Midian where he became the Moses who would discover God at the Burning Bush. It was in his refuge that Moses became the man who would lead his nation from Egypt to Revelation, all the way to the Jordan River, where he set aside the Cities of Refuge.

The tragedy that caused him to lose his place in Pharaoh’s palace eventually led him to the highest heavens. His second look at his life story caused him to break out in song. Moses sang of the power of Torah to serve as a refuge that would allow even a killer to have an Act Two beyond all expectations. He would now be able to retell the story of Revelation, not as a story, but as a second act, an opportunity to experience the process again and be transformed. This is the first time that we learn that Torah is a Song, why the musical notes of the words are so significant, for they are the Song of the Act Two, an opportunity to rise from tragedy to unimaginable heights.

This Shabbat, Shabbat Nachamu, is named for Isaiah’s famous prophecy of consolation that begins with, “Nachamu, Nachamu, Comfort, Comfort, My people (Isaiah 40:1).” Nachamu, Nachamu, not as a repetition, but as the Song of Act Two. Isaiah is, as did Moses when setting aside Cities of Refuge, promising that Act Two is possible, and holds even more promise than life before exile.

We welcome the Angels to our Shabbat table with a song. People often ask me why we repeat each stanza, and my answer is always, “Each Shabbat can be a Song of Act Two, no Shabbat is as any other. Each is a City of Refuge from which we will emerge as did Moses from his, elevated, inspired, empowered to achieve more than we ever dreamed possible.”

It is exactly such a Shabbat that I wish for every Israeli family that sought refuge in a bomb shelter,

Even as Moses reviews the story of the people he led out of Egypt, he hints at his own story, a story that at one point, leads him to break out in song: ” Az, Then Moses set aside three Cities of Refuge on the bank of the Jordan (Deuteronomy 4:41).” The Ba’alei Tosafot point out that “Az” is always the introduction to an inspired song. The Song of the Sea begins with “Az (Exodus 15:1). The Song of the Well, too, begins with “Az, (Numbers 21:17).”

So why, ask the Ba’alei Tosafot, did Moses break out in song when he set aside Cities of Refuge for killers?

We wonder why Cities of Refuge stimulated song, when the Shema and the retelling of Revelation and the Ten Statements did not?

More than a century earlier, Moses needed his own City of Refuge. He killed an Egyptian taskmaster (Exodus 2:12), and ran, exiled, from Egypt to Midian. It was in Midian where he became the Moses who would discover God at the Burning Bush. It was in his refuge that Moses became the man who would lead his nation from Egypt to Revelation, all the way to the Jordan River, where he set aside the Cities of Refuge.

The tragedy that caused him to lose his place in Pharaoh’s palace eventually led him to the highest heavens. His second look at his life story caused him to break out in song. Moses sang of the power of Torah to serve as a refuge that would allow even a killer to have an Act Two beyond all expectations. He would now be able to retell the story of Revelation, not as a story, but as a second act, an opportunity to experience the process again and be transformed. This is the first time that we learn that Torah is a Song, why the musical notes of the words are so significant, for they are the Song of the Act Two, an opportunity to rise from tragedy to unimaginable heights.

This Shabbat, Shabbat Nachamu, is named for Isaiah’s famous prophecy of consolation that begins with, “Nachamu, Nachamu, Comfort, Comfort, My people (Isaiah 40:1).” Nachamu, Nachamu, not as a repetition, but as the Song of Act Two. Isaiah is, as did Moses when setting aside Cities of Refuge, promising that Act Two is possible, and holds even more promise than life before exile.

We welcome the Angels to our Shabbat table with a song. People often ask me why we repeat each stanza, and my answer is always, “Each Shabbat can be a Song of Act Two, no Shabbat is as any other. Each is a City of Refuge from which we will emerge as did Moses from his, elevated, inspired, empowered to achieve more than we ever dreamed possible.

It is exactly such a Shabbat that I wish for every Israeli family that sought refuge in a bomb shelter, and for each one of us.

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