Shabbat Shirah

Shabbat Shirah falls on the Shabbat early in Sh’vat (Jan/Feb) where we read the Parsha Beshalach, which contains the Song of the Sea (Exodus 15:1–18).

It’s a custom in Ashkenazic custom to go out and feed the birds (because they sing) on this Shabbat.  So if you check the #challah on instagram, you may see a bunch of challot (plural of challah) with birds in them over the weekend.

My teacher Rav Kohenet Ye’ilah (Rabbi Jill Hammer) teaches on her website Telshemesh.org:

“The birds also represent the legendary story that as the Israelites walked through the miraculously split sea, trees sprouted in the sea and grew fruit for the Israelites to feed their children.”

Another option, if you aren’t into feeding birds is to read the sections on birds in Perek Shirah (The Song of Nature).  There are 14 different birds mentioned.  The Zoo Torah website has a free PDF of the text you can download. There are also several lovely hardcopy books you can buy.  None really resonate for me, but opportunity for other artists!

If you know of other practices or have one of your own — I’d love to hear about it!