Tag Archives: Jericho

Shabbat Shira – it’s music

Halleluhu by Laya Crust

Parshat B’Shalach                        Haftarah: Judges 4: 4 – 5: 31

Music is magical. We can’t see it, touch it, smell it or taste it. We can hear it and magically it can transform our mood and take us to other places in our imagination. We all know about love songs (a billion), break-up songs (2 billion), songs of tribute (“Starry Night” about Vincent Van Gogh) and patriotic songs (“La Marseillaise”and “HaTikvah”). All our secrets can be unearthed (“Killing Me Softly”) and raw emotion can be exposed (Stravinsky’s compositions).

Music is a beautiful union of art, science, math, and imagination. I remember a friend of mine- a physicist- being amazed and unbelieving when I told him I loved music. “How is that possible? ” he asked. “You’re an artsy.” I was really surprised by that comment because I had always thought that music was art and emotion. That was when I found out that there is a close relationship between science and music.

Miriam’s Song by Laya Crust

Music is an integral part of joyous Judaism. In the Torah portion B’Shalach we read “The Song of the Sea”.  It is Moses’ song of praise to God that was sung after the Israelites safely crossed the Red (or Reed) Sea, and were saved from the angry Egyptian army. The women, led by the prophet Miriam, sang and danced and made music on their “tof”, a handheld drum. There is a beautiful painting of the women led by Miriam playing their drums in The Golden Haggadah, and another lovely rendition in The Sarajevo Haggadah.

Devorah the Prophetess by Laya Crust
(inspired by a painting from a 17th C. Judeo-Persian book)

This Bible reading describing the escape into the desert, across the sea, and the ultimate Song of the Sea is paired with an adventure story in the Book of Judges. Led by the prophet Devorah the Israelites won a battle against Sisera’s Army. A woman named Yael completed the defeat by killing Sisera. Devorah then sang a song of praise about the triumph and Yael’s conquest.

 When we are happy, when we are sad, when we want to remember or forget, when we want to meditate or pray, be left alone or celebrate with others we often turn to music. Because it is a comforting, joyous and spiritual medium the most beautiful parts of prayer are often paired with music. The painting at the top of the page shows biblical instruments mentioned in “psoukei d’zimra”, prayers we say in the morning.

On this Shabbat Shira, the Shabbat of Song, pay attention to the songs and music composed by Moses, Miriam, and the prophetess-judge Devorah. Enjoy the art, the sounds, and the music around you and have a Shabbat Shalom.

Laya

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Living in a Wall- Shelach Lecha

Shelach LechaRahav and the Spies by Laya Crust

Joshua 2: 1- 24

This week the Torah relates the story of Moshe sending twelve spies into Canaan to see what the land was like. Joshua was one of those spies. The men came back from their mission laden with grapes, pomegranates and figs but were afraid to face the people who occupied the land. The spies called the people “giants” and thought the Israelites would be slaughtered. Only two men, Joshua and Caleb, believed that the Israelites would be able to possess the “land of milk and honey”.

In the accompanying haftarah Joshua was the leader of the nation. Two spies were sent to Jericho to investigate the city and the surrounding countryside. They went to an inn at the fortress wall owned by a local woman named Rahav. She hid them from the city guards in bales of wheat on her roof, then lowered them from a window so they could escape. The two spies gave her a red rope to hang from her window so that when the Israelites attacked Jericho her home and all those in her home would be saved.

Rahav didn’t only live by the wall, she lived in the wall- the defense wall surrounding Jericho at that. I wondered how that was possible. Defense walls are thick and were built so that soldiers could stand at the wall and fire defense weaponry on attackers. There were openings in defense walls so that the fighters could shoot arrows, guns, cannons, pots of boiling oil, or whatever their preferred weapon was. I didn’t understand how Rahav lived next to a wall with populated with soldiers, and she even had access to the open country.
I spoke to a historian about the walls. He told me that at times the walls were made 4 – 6 feet deep, with open space in that 4- 6 foot area. People would live there, probably those who were on the poorer end of the spectrum. They lived in smaller spaces farther from the centre of commerce and social life.
1_Jericho-walls-falling-earthquake[1]

This is a drawing based on an excavation of Jericho. It reconstructs the moment when
the trumpet players blew their horns and the walls of Jericho began to crumble.

This illustration from the “Biblical Archeology ” website shows how there was room between an interior wall and another exterior wall. It was logical for Rahav to have an inn within or between the walls because it would be an inexpensive inn or drinking place on the edge of town, it would service common people who would be gossiping about the political situation,  it would be convenient for travelers just entering the city, and it would be convenient for a hasty escape or secret rendezvous.

As with so many bible stories this includes adventure, espionage, and bravery. It is fascinating to pay attention to the details and learn about life and circumstance in another age- like learning about living in a defense wall.

Have a good day and a good week.

P.S. The painting of Rahav and the Spies will be in the book of haftarah images that I am working on now. Stayed tuned for future updates!

 

 

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Shabbat Shira – it’s music

Miriam's Song

Miriam’s Song by Laya Crust

Parshat b’Shalach

Haftarah: Judges 4: 4 – 5: 31

Music is magical. We can’t see it, touch it, smell it or taste it. We can hear it and magically it can transform our mood and take us to other places in our imagination. We all know about love songs (a billion), break-up songs (2 billion), songs of tribute (Starry Night  about Vincent Van Gogh) and patriotic songs (Le Marseillaise). All our secrets can be unearthed (Killing Me Softly) and raw emotion can exposed (Stravinsky).

It is a beautiful union of art, science, math and imagination. I remember a friend of mine- a physicist- being amazed and unbelieving when I told him I loved music. “How is that possible? ” he asked. “You’re an artsy.” I was really surprised by that comment because I had always thought that music was art and emotion. And then I found out the close relationship between science and music. I’ve been working on a new composition (visual, not musical) for an engineer (physics, not train). Because he is, from what I can tell, equally music and science oriented I wanted to merge the two fields in my painting.  My intention is to merge the spectrum of tone, the measure of the notes and the background ordering of the staff. Here is a draft of my ideas:

20150127_183737art by Laya Crust

Music is an integral part of  joyous Judaism. In the Torah portion B’shalach we read “The Song of the Sea”.  It is Moses’ song of praise to God that was sung after the Israelites safely crossed the Red (or Reed) Sea, and were saved from the angry Egyptian army. The women, led by the prophet Miriam, sang and danced and made music on their tof, a hand held drum. There is a beautiful painting of the women led by Miriam playing their drums in The Golden Haggadah, and another lovely rendition in The Sarajevo Haggadah.

This Bible reading describing the escape into the desert, across the sea, and the ultimate Song of the Sea is paired with an adventure story in the Book of Judges. Led by the prophet Devorah the Israelites win a battle against Sisera’s Army. A woman named Yael completes the defeat by killing Sisera. Devorah then sings a song of praise about the triumph and Yael’s conquest. halleluhu0052

 The painting here shows biblical instruments mentioned in prayers we say in the morning.

When we are happy, when we are sad, when we want to remember or forget, when we want to meditate or pray, be left alone or celebrate with others we often turn to music. Because it is a comforting, joyous and spiritual medium the most beautiful parts of prayer are often paired with music.

So enjoy the art, the sounds, and the music around you.

Shabbat Shalom, Laya

I would love it if you would share your thoughts or stories about music. Even if it’s lyrics to ballads by cowboys, the loneliest lyrics in the world.

 
Artist in Residence,  The Pomegranate Guild of Judaic Textiles, Toronto

website  layacrust.com

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Shelach Lecha

Shelach Lecha

 

Joshua 2: 1- 24

Joshua- prophet and leader, circa 13th centruy BCE

This haftarah takes place just after Joshua has succeeded Moshe as leader of the nation.

He secretly sent two spies to Jericho to investigate the city and the surrounding countryside. They went to to the home of Rahav, a harlot and innkeeper whose inn was located in the outer wall of Jericho.  The leaders of Jericho found out that the two spies had gone there and they questioned Rahav about their whereabouts.  She misled the city leaders, hiding the spies under bales of flax on her roof top, and helped them escape the town safely. The spies climbed from her window out of the city walls using a red cord she had given them They told her to put that same red cord in her window so that when the Israelites later attacked Jericho, her home and all those in her home would be spared.

My illustration at the top of this page shows Rahav on the roof of her inn with the two spies. They are holding the red cord that she will show from her window.

This haftarah is paired with the parsha that describes the previous occasion Israelite spies went on a mission to investigate Jericho. The two parallel stories play out very differently.  In the parsha Moshe appointed twelve men, one from each tribe, to spy on the land and bring back fruit of the land. Moshe spoke to them and gave them instructions publicly. They returned laden with beautiful grapes, pomegranates and figs but with warnings that the mission was impossible. Their negative report was public too. A rebellion was averted, but not before God said that these Israelites did not merit entering the land of Canaan.

Of the twelve men who were sent only Joshua of the tribe of Ephraim and Caleb of the tribe of Judah believed that B’nei Yisrael, led by God , would be able to possess the “land of milk and honey”.

In this haftarah we see that Joshua learned from the earlier experience. Rather than send a large delegation of twelve well known men he sent only two unnamed spies. It was a secret mission- b’nei Yisrael did not know about it. Moshe had given the twelve spies a long list of things to report. This afforded them the chance to discuss and debate amongst themselves and discover elements to be afraid of. In contrast Joshua gave his two emissaries one goal- to observe the land of Jericho. In that way Joshua avoided getting unwanted advice from tribal leaders who did not have enough faith in the invisible hand of God.

The two spies returned with the information Joshua needed. This haftarah is our introduction to the triumphant entrance of the children of Israel to the land that God had promised them.

It is intriguing that Rahav, the woman who helped the Israelites was a harlot, an innkeepeer, and wasn’t a member of b’nei Yisrael. Yet she recognized the strength of the one God who led the Israelites and she was ready to pledge her future to Him. It’s an interesting story that has a number of hints to other stories in our canon. Read it through-see what you can find.

Have a Shabbat Shalom, and thank-you for reading this week’s entry!

 

 

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Shelach Lecha

Shelach Lecha

 

Joshua 2: 1- 24

The parsha relates the story of Moshe sending twelve spies into Canaan to see what the land is like. Joshua was one of those spies. We remember that the men came back from their mission laden with grapes, pomegranates and figs. However they spoke of how frightening the land and the people were. Of the twelve men who were sent only Joshua and Caleb believed that B’nei Yisrael, led by G-d , would be able to possess the “land of milk and honey”.

In this haftarah Joshua is the leader of the nation. He sends two spies to Jericho to investigate the city and the surrounding countryside. They are seen and are subsequently hidden by Rahav, a local woman. She hides them in bales of wheat on her roof, then lowers them from a window so they can escape safely. The two Israelite spies give her a red rope to hang from her window so that when the Israelites attack Jericho her home and all those in her home will be saved.

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