Shabbat Shirah: The Liberty of the Land

February 7, 2020 Atlanta 0

When the Jewish mystics would welcome Shabbat, they would first go outdoors and sing. Their ideal sanctuary was the garden of Song of Songs where the world was in bloom. Holiness was found in the ripening of pomegranates and the opening of blossoms. This unabashed celebration of creation was expressed by a love of the land. Being loyal stewards of the earth emerges from a deep love and respect of the natural world. 

Spiritual ecologists teach us that the best way to engage in environmental justice is from a place of love, not one of fear. The Torah is her wisdom describes the land as a promise for independent, responsible people. And just as we value our own freedom, we, in turn, the Torah teaches, must promise the land not to enslave it, nor exploit it. We proclaim liberty for the land.


Shabbat Shirah is when we retell the crossing of the Sea, but to what end? Our journey begins as we retell how our spiritual ancestors left the “Narrow Place” where greed and scarcity caused others to enslave them and exploit the land. They are freed in order to pursue justice for themselves and for the land. As a symbol of our freedom we are given the rest of Shabbat. This is extended to all living beings and to the land itself. The land is recognized as an extension of the Source of Life, sustaining and nourishing it, but Torah teaches we must covenant to sustain and nourish the land in return to honor the precious and fragile balance.


Shabbat Shirah focuses on the freedom of our people and this year we also remember that we cannot be truly free when our land is bound and choking. An earth exploited can not sustain us, and we suffer greatly. When we sing of our people’s freedom, we sing for the earth, to the earth and with the earth.  We hear the alarm and we invite our love for the earth to guide us in seeking ways to restore the balance. As the psalmist sang, Let everything breathing thing sing the Praise of the Source of Freedom. And let our song be for the sake of the liberty of the land.

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Fact Sheet
Friday, February 7, 2020, 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church
1790 Lavista Rd
Atlanta, GA 30329

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