Haftarah: 7th Day Pesach: A Life of Song
Samuel 2 22:1-51: I hope that in the final days of my life that I will be able to reflect on all that happened to me, good and bad, and rather than focus on what I did right and what I did wrong, to have the clarity to understand that God was guiding me from the beginning until the end. I dream that the clarity will be so overwhelming that I will burst out in a song of praise of God. I dream that the song will not only express praise for God’s guidance of my life, but that it will express the understanding of my life in the context of my history, my family, my nation, all of Israel. I dream that my song will transform my entire life into a song and celebration of God, God’s Providence and His deep love for the Children of Israel. I dream that my life will be a song to God. I want my song to harmonize with the song King David’s life, the song we read in this Haftarah.
It is not enough to dream. A dream will not allow me to sing with David. He did not wait until the end of his life to sing. He didn’t dream that one day he would be able to sing at the end of his life. He sang his entire life. We call him “The Sweet Singer of Israel”. He sang the Psalms to give voice to every soul that thirsts to sing. David did not wait to sing. He sang all along.
David did not only sing for his entire life. He did not only dream of reflecting on his life and transforming 70 years into a song of praise. He did not wait to sing of his life in the context of all of Israel. He actually prepared this, his final song, his life’s song, his life as a song, long before he died. He already gave voice to this song on Psalm 18. He practiced his life’s song for many years. He sang when he was suffering and he sang the same song when he soared. He sang when he ran from his enemies, and then sang the same song again as he chased those enemies.
King David did not wait to sing his life’s song, his life as a song. He sang all along. He transformed his entire life into a symphony as he lived his life. David taught us that we can live each day of our lives as a song of praise. He taught us to sing when we are down just as we sing when we are up. He taught us that if we sing in the present, that one day, when we reflect on our lives, we will hear our entire lives as a song.
The Sages understood that the Song of the Sea, today’s Torah reading, contains the key to eternity: “Az Yashir” – They WILL sing – in the World to Come. When Israel stood at the banks of the Yam Suf and sang they had an opportunity to transform their future into song, a song of eternity. They sensed the eternal in their salvation, the miracles, and the total defeat of their masters. They sensed the eternity and sang; “Hashem Yimloch L’olam Va’ed” – “God will be king forever” – but they soon forgot that the song cannot be the finale; it must be the beginning. They forgot to turn all their lives into song. As the Midrash teaches: “They should have sung, ‘Hashem Melech’ – ‘ God IS King” – they looked to the future, but they lost the opportunity to turn their present into a song.
David understood the opportunity of the Song of the Sea, and sang in the present and the future.
Please see another reading of this selection in Hafatarot – Ha’azainu: The Original Last Lecture.