Perek Shira: The Song of Existence The Song of the Desert
by Rabbi Shmuel Kraines
The desert says: “The desert and the wasteland will rejoice and the plains will be gladdened. They will sprout like a flower.” (Yeshayahu 35:1)
There is nothing the empty desert ought to sing about. Nevertheless, with its very desolation, it sings how the desert-like Land of Israel will transform into a joyful irrigated land by the future redemption. Accordingly, the more dead a desert appears, the more it sings of Hashem’s ingathering of His nation, which for so many centuries seemed hopelessly lost in exile.
It was specifically in the desert that our people received the Torah, our eternal heritage, and it was there that we became a glorious nation. That period of nomadic desert life was an exceptional circumstance. Ordinarily, the physical world is necessary for regular human life. However, that period can serve as a symbolic lesson for all generations that whenever the physical world is empty and silent, the soft voice of the soul can be heard from within.
Thus, even the desolate patches of life are opportunities for growth in one way or another, and they are indispensable components of the universe's song. Even when going through a dismal period of life, a Jew must not lose hope. The lower a person is, the more magnificent it will be when Hashem draws him close again. The desert's song may seem unpleasant to us, but to Hashem it is as beautiful as that of the Land of Israel.
- Sources: Radak; Shir HaShirim Rabbah (2:1); Sifsei Renanos; Mishlei Yaakov. See also Bamidbar Rabbah (23:4)
*In loving memory of Harav Zeev Shlomo ben Zecharia Leib