You may remember the animated movie “The Prince of Egypt” which was released in 1999 and became a classic for those who love the story of the Exodus from Egypt. If you have never seen it or if it has been a while since you saw it last, I highly recommend it.
The movie does a pretty good job of illustrating the Book of Shmot. However, the film does differ from the Biblical text. For example, in the movie, Pharaoh’s wife, rather than his daughter, found Moshe in the basket. Tziporah, Moshe’s wife, rather than Aharon went with Moshe to meet with Pharaoh. Moshe was even Pharaoh’s best friend, until the day that Moshe requested “Let my people go.”
Aside from these discrepancies, there was a very important message in the movie presented in a song sung by Miriam, Tziopora, the Hebrew Children and the Hebrews: “When You Believe”:
Who knows what miracles you can achieve when you believe, somehow you will, you will when you believe.
The focal point of the song that really makes the movie is when the Hebrew Children sing part of Az Yashir (The Song of the Sea) in Hebrew as they are crossing the Sea of Reeds:
Ashira la-HaShem ki ga-oh ga-ah
I will sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously
Mi Chamocha ba’Eilim HaShem?
Who is like You, O Lord among the celestial?
Mi Kamocha ne-edar baKodesh?
Who is like You, majestic in holiness?
Nachita v’Chasdecha am zu ga-alta
In your love, you lead the people you redeemed
A-shira, a-shira, a-shira
I will sing, I will sing, I will sing…
Az Yashir is a prayer that is recited every morning. It is read from the Torah on Parshat Beshalach and on the seventh day of Pesach. Because we are so familiar with it, we may forget the magnitude of the fact that it was sung by the Jewish people after they crossed the sea and were saved.
The movie does a great job of calling attention to this important song. The fact that it is sung in Hebrew makes an even greater impact.
Although the movie isn’t perfect, “When You Believe” can give us extra kavana (intent) when we recite Az Yashir. It also gives us a moment to reflect on two amazing artists who sang on the soundtrack and are no longer with us, Whitney Houston and Ofra Haza who are both listed as Rolling Stone’s top 200 singers of all time .