Torah: Va’Yeilekh

Va’Yeilekh: God’s final command to Moses, as conveyed in this week’s parashah, is “Write a [farewell] song to the people” (Deuteronomy 31:19). Songs are poems put to music. They have added power because music evokes and amplifies emotion. It also allows us to memorize. Hence, we learn the a,b,c’s and the aleph bet with a melody. Likewise, the power of Kol Nidre, which we will chant together on Tuesday night at 6pm, is due to the familiar, haunting chant. The words of the prayer emphasize the power of words, asking God to release us from vows that we have made to God (or will make). And yet, the emotion of the holy night is evoked by the music. As when combining head and heart, words and music together offer a fuller moment. May the music,  poetic words, and embrace of community during Yom Kippur combine to elevate us toward living our higher self.