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In Melbourne Shabbat begins Fri 18 Oct 2019 07:21 PM and ends Sat 19 Oct 2019 08:22 PM
ט' שבט ה' אלפים תשע"ב
My son and I were at the sofer last week picking out tefillin for his rapidly approaching Bar Mitzva. As we were being educated about the various sizes and styles available, I was reminded of my own Bar Mitzva 24 years ago and the excitement of entering a new stage in life, with endless possibilities stretching before me.
One cherished memory was waking up early to put on my new tefillin for the very first time. I vividly remember my father demonstrating how to wrap them and my grandfather a"h adjusting the knots to fit my adolescent-sized head.
As I stood there crowned with my tefillin, feeling just so holy and special, Reb Zalman Serbryansky, the unofficial mentor of the town, an elderly chassid with a heart of gold and a history of self-sacrifice for Judaism approached us to offer his congratulations. He took my hand between his, stroking it in his inimitable style, and in his Russian accented English blessed me "that the same feeling of anticipation that you had this morning to put on tefillin and daven, you should have every morning for the rest of your life".
It is a beautiful thought, because although we often start new resolutions and projects with enthusiasm, the realities of life often conspire to habituate us to that which once inspired. Over time we lose passion and our enthusiasm peters out into a careless monotony.
How do you maintain the passion? Not just by keeping up with your commitments, but by holding on to the feelings of excitement and pleasure that you had when things were still fresh. If you can remember what it felt like at first, you might never truly let go.
Perhaps this explains the verse in this week's Torah reading. As the Jews stood on the other side of the Red Sea, contemplating the bodies of Egyptians washing up on the shore and reflecting on the incredible miracle Hashem had just engineered for them, then Moshe and the Jews sang this song to G-d and they said, saying "I will sing to the L-rd for He is great." (BeShalach 15:1).
The tautological expression and they said, saying may possibly be interpreted as a reference to their hopes and aspirations for the future. At that time of crossing the sea they were grateful and inspired. Their fidelity to G-d was unquestioned and they unhesitatingly committed to following in His ways. Their only fear was that over time they'd lose this sense of connection, so they prayed that what we're saying now, we should continue to say later.
Don't let the fire go out, or the cold creep in. We know what's important and we are committed to the cause. If we can carry the excitement with us throughout our journey, then we will stay connected to our G-d and the same song of praise to Him that we're singing now, we will continue to sing forever.