"Arise" came out of the wake of the Las Vegas shooting in October 2017. In the aftermath, I was searching for inspiration and guidance in the texts of our tradition. 𝐁𝐮𝐭 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞𝐬, 𝐉𝐞𝐰𝐢𝐬𝐡 𝐭𝐞𝐱𝐭𝐬 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐚 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐭. 𝐒𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐦𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐛𝐞 𝐚 𝐫𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐥. 𝐀 𝐠𝐮𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐭. 𝐀 𝐬𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐤. This song is based on a collection of verses that were ringing in my ears that week, and as the one year anniversary of the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue shooting is this weekend, they unfortunately still continue to ring just as true today. - Rabbi Josh Warshawsky, October 2019
As you listen to the song and read the lyrics on the screen or below, think about the tone/key of the song and the message of the song. Do they match up? Do you think the rhythm and melody of the song is appropriate for the message of the song?
Look straight ahead, my son, look straight ahead (Proverbs 4:25)
As you overflow your cup you just remember what I said (Psalm 23)
Like a bloodstained multicolored coat a signpost dipped in red (Genesis 37)
Heed my call.
Guard your soul, your heart inside your chest (Proverbs 4:23)
The wicked lie and wait in darkness, they give you no rest (Proverbs 4:19)
How devious and cursed, is your mind up to the test?
You will not fall
You will walk and not break stride
You will not stumble when you ride (Proverbs 4:12)
Let the stranger be your guide in how to love
Life them up, heed their cries
Do not be wise in your own eyes (Proverbs 3:7)
Let the truth defeat the lies and come to light… and come to light
When you spread your hands in prayer (Isaiah 1:15)
Do not expect to hear an answer when there’s smoke still in the air
Your hands are full of blood and still you talk of what is fair?
We know not all...
Wash your hands, my son, stop doing wrong. (Isaiah 1:16)
Learn to do right, and come together, we have waited far too long
Arise, it’s time, seek justice, for together we are strong
We will not fall
I can hear the bells ringing
I can hear their voices singing
I can hear their feet marching
I can hear their hearts drumming
I can hear those people praying
1. What is your first reaction to the song? What did you think about while listening to it?
2. How do you respond to the prompt at the top - do the tone, rhythm, and melody match the message of the song? Why or why not?
3. What do you think the bells represent?
King Solomon is said to have written the Proverbs, a collection of wisdom designed to teach lessons to its readers. In these proverbs, Solomon is addressing his child, giving specific instructions for how to conduct themselves in life.
4. What do you think it means to "walk without breaking stride" or to run without stumbling?
5. How easy is it to turn away from the path of evil? Is it a simple act?
6. Why is wisdom considered the opposite of evil?
7. Why is it negative to be "wise in your own eyes?" Isn't wisdom something to strive for?
8. How can fearing God be a cure for one's body?
The song references a "bloodstained multicolored coat a signpost dipped in red," a reference to the Coat of Many Colors which Jacob gave to his favorite son, Joseph. The text below describes the gift and Jacob's favoritism.
9. Why do you think Rabbi Warshawsky would refer to Joseph's coat as "a signpost dipped in red?"
10. Was the hatred Joseph's brothers showed him justified?
11. Was Joseph at fault for their reaction? If so, why? If not, who was / was their someone else at fault?
12. Compare Jacob's role as a father to Solomon's role in Provebs. How do they contrast?
The book of Isaiah is one of the Tanach's scariest books. It is filled with warnings of the horrible things that will happen to the people of Israel is they turn away from God. It is very graphic and disturbing. In this section, Isaiah describes God's refusal to accept prayers and sacrifices from the Israelites because they have sinned and continue to sin. Isaiah is pointing out the hypocrisy of the Israelites in their desire to have their prayers heard by God while simultaneously turning their backs to God.
13. How do you think the Israelites responded to Isaiah's warnings?
14. What does it feel like to be told that God won't listen to your prayers?
15. Have you ever felt like there is something standing in the way of your prayers to God? What was that like?
16. Why do you think devoting to justice, helping the wronged, and upholding the rights of the orphan and the widow are the specific examples of ways to change one's behavior for the better? What makes these actions stand out against other good deeds?
Psalm 23, written by King David, is very famous and often sung at the end of Shabbat. It is often quoted in times of fear and it speaks about David's unwavering faith in God, even when life was at its most bleak. This psalm has found popularity in Christianity as well, often translated as, "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I shall fear no evil."
17. Why would this psalm be one that is sung at the end of Shabbat each week?
18. Is the image of God spreading a table for David in full view of his enemies positive or negative? Why? Does it change in context of the rest of the psalm?
19. Why wouldn't David fear harm here?
20. What's the difference between keeping one's eyes straight ahead and surveying the course one takes?
In this Talmudic passage, Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai spent two and a half years arguing whether or not humankind should have ever been created at all. They recognize the sins and horrible actions of human beings and conclude that perhaps it would have been better if humankind never existed - but, since we are already here, we should strive to live life as careful as possible.
21. Imagine you're part of this conversation with Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai. What would you argue? Why? What evidence would you use to prove your point?
22. The conversation ends with a note of sadness that humans do exist and instruction for how we should behave since we're here anyway. How would you end this conversation if you were moderating it? What would you want future generations to read here?
23. The image of light is constantly used to signify goodness. What might a different image be that could be used in this situation?
24. The text says the wicked "do not know what will make them stumble." This implies that the righteous DO KNOW what will make them stumble. Why do you think the righteous would know what will make them stumble? Why wouldn't they avoid stumbling instead?
25. "More than anything, guard your mind, For it is the source of life." This is a very powerful image. How would you phrase this for today? Imagine you were trying to give a friend instructions or a pep talk. How would you use this theme in your words?