Vayelech – September 18th, 2015
S.T.A.R.’s upcoming exciting events:
- Friday Candle Lighting: 6:37 pm
- Shabbat Ends: 7:23 pm
Prose and Poetry
“And Moshe wrote this poem…” (31:22)
Prose and poetry are worlds apart.
Prose is more or less like someone speaking from a page.
No one speaks like a poem.
Prose is speech committed to writing.
Poetry is a written concentration of words divulged by speech.
Moshe transmitted the Torah to the Jewish People first by speech – as a prose experience. It was then committed to writing. This was akin to a lecture – the Oral Torah – that was then written down as the notes of that lecture. That is a comparison to the written Torah.
This is the part of the Torah that we might call prose.
However, there is another part to the Torah: its poetry.
“And Moshe wrote this poem…”
This poem, this shira, that visualizes G-d, was given first as a written quintessence and only then came the Oral tradition to correctly explain it.
A poem comes from beyond the literal, beyond the tangible. It uses words to escape language.
The words of the poem soar above language, and the Oral commentary is the ladder given to ascend to its lofty sentiments.
- Source: based on Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch