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Tradition & Innovation

Feeding the Birds: Shabbat Shirah

closeup of hand feeding small bird outside
“It happened on the seventh day that some of the people went out to gather, and they did not find” (Ex. 16:27)
 
It is a minhag (custom) of expressing gratitude to put out breadcrumbs for the birds on Erev Shabbat of Parshat BeShalakh.
 
Give thanks to the birds,
living as the Force of Life created them,
according to their nature, present to every divinely provided 
crumb.
 
Consider how the Presence deployed them:
a flock of natural wonders,
winged enforcers of Divine will
devouring manna laid out by saboteurs 
resistant to belief and trust, as humans are prone to do,
in spite of deeds and repeated reassurances, 
unconvinced by destruction or liberation, 
a split sea or a daily portion.
 
Give thanks for the birds,
their feathers, flight and song
portents of potentiality
reminders of the plague of unbelief,
bringers of hope
so that those who went to hunt for manna
found absence 
and in that open space, Presence.

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