Songwriter and singer R’ Shlomo Carlebach who composed a great many Jewish melodies (including many of the very familiar classics) has this song about “Mizmor Shir L’Yom HaShabbos” that has these two English stanzas. You can listen to one version of him singing it here online.
First it begins:
“The whole wide world is waiting… to sing the song of Shabbos…”
The the next stanza is:
“I am also waiting…. to sing the song of Shabbos….”
So the obvious question is: Isn’t the “I am” also included in the “whole wide world”? If the whole wide world is waiting to sing the song of Shabbos, obviously then I am as well?
This reflects an issue that the Rebbe addresses a lot in this sichot: the community and the individual, how to see the importance and value in each one and balance and harmonize their strengths together. See our Waldo-esque interpretation about this issue in a Rashi of Parshat Korach talk of the Rebbe that seems quite autobiographical, or our son Moshe’s Bar-Mitzvah speech with Rebbe’s take on his Bar-Mitzvah Parshas of a combined Vayakhel & Pekudei. This is a common theme of the Rebbe, and it manifests itself in many areas of Jewish learning and law, and all types of life issues.
One of the places where this balance occurs in Jewish law is with the law of the Paschal Lamb, the Korban Pesach. Most Temple sacrifices fit neatly into one of two clear categories: private/personal offerings (Korban Yachid) or public/communal offerings (Korban Tzibur).
But the Paschal Lamb straddles both! On one hand it is a personal offering, in which families must join their own groupings and arrange their own – and then it is eaten privately as families. Yet it is offered together with great ceremony as a community, as a people. The Rebbe explains various laws and observances relating to the Paschal Lamb and Passover as a whole that reflect this dual identity, this double-labeling, as both a communal and a personal sacrifice.
This message applies year round to those involved with Jewish life on campus, in our campus community here at Albany. We can’t rely on the community to do everything, it is up to us to take personal responsibility and do it on our own. At the same time, it is not enough just to do our own thing and distance ourselves from public needs, we need to invest ourselves to create and strengthen the sense of community.
The song needs both stanzas. There’s a power that “the whole wide world” brings to Shabbat, and the focus that “I am also…” creates as well. As we are often wont to say: We need both!