Beshalach 5777

RABBI YECHIEL ROZEN

אז ישיר משה ובני ישראל (שמות טו:א)

The Pasuk uses the future tense, ישיר, “they will sing,” as opposed to שר, “they sang.” Rashi explains that when Moshe saw the miracle of Kriyas Yam Suf, the desire to sing Shira arose in his heart, and then he sang.
The Maharal in Gur Aryeh questions the need for the Pasuk to reveal the sentiments leading up to the Shira. Is it not sufficient for the Torah to write the result, “And they sang?”
The Maharal answers that the catalyst behind their Shira was joy. Bnei Yisrael’s hearts filled with such joy that they erupted in song. It was not said mechanically, driven by their intellect. It was their emotional response to Hashem’s greatness and His love for them. Therefore, the Pasuk uses an expression of ישיר, they will sing, magnifying the feelings that were the heart and soul of the ensuing Shira.
This thought is found in the Gemara (Arachin 11a). In the long and terrible תוכחה of Parshas Ki Savo, the Torah sums up the cause for all this punishment.תחת אשר לא עבדת את ה’ אלוקיך בשמחה ובטוב לבב (דברים כח:מז) “for this that you did not serve Hashem with happiness and joyous heart” (Devarim 28:47). The Gemara says that this refers to Shira. “What Avodah is performed through joy? Shira.” The Gemara chastises Bnei Yisrael for not singing Shira. Not for the absence of the act of Shira, but for the driving force that results in Shira, the real joy and happiness that a Jew must have in his everyday life that culminates in Shira.
In this Shira, Moshe Rabbeinu is singled out from the rest of Klal Yisrael. Yet in Parshas Chukas (Bamidbar 21:17), when Bnei Yisrael sang Shira at the well, Moshe is not mentioned. Why in Shiras HaYam was he singled out and not included with the Bnei Yisrael? The answer goes back to the source. In Parshas Shemos, when the Torah relates the details of Moshe’s birth, the names of his parents are omitted. The Pasuk simply says וילך איש מבית לוי ויקח את בת לוי (שמות ב:א), “A man went from the house of Levi and he took a daughter of Levi” (Shemos 2:1).
The Gur Aryeh explains that the Torah is revealing a great secret. From the very beginning of Creation, Moshe Rabbeinu was predestined to redeem Bnei Yisrael. A person’s name tells his essence. When a child is born to someone, it is specifically that person who bears this specific child. Without these parents, this unique child would not be born. In the case of Moshe, even without Amram and Yocheved per se there would have still been a Moshe Rabbeinu. Therefore, in the initial recounting of Moshe’s birth, the specific names of his parents are not mentioned.
Why indeed did Bnei Yisrael need Moshe to redeem us? Why didn’t Hashem take us out without a redeemer?
Perhaps one aspect is as follows: In Parshas Pinchas (Bamidbar 27:12-17), Hashem told Moshe that he should go up and view the Land of Eretz Yisrael, for he will not be the one to lead Bnei Yisrael there. Moshe Rabbeinu beseeched Hashem on behalf of Klal Yisrael that Hashem give them a good leader in his stead. His request was very specific. He asked for a leader who could manage each individual in the nation according to his unique ability and understanding.
Bnei Yisrael was a nation of twelve Shevatim, each with his own understanding, everyone with his own path. They were Shivim Nefesh, seventy souls, who paralleled all seventy nations of the world. Klal Yisrael is a nation of individuals, each Jew a world in his own right.
This was the essence of Moshe Rabbeinu’s leadership. He did not merely lead a nation. He united a myriad of individuals, each with a unique ability and specific mission. He fashioned Bnei Yisrael into one entity, one great nation – כאיש אחד בלב אחד. This was and is essential to Geula.
In Parshas Chukas, the Shira was about the Nissim that Hashem performed for Bnei Yisrael in the Midbar. All of Bnei Yisrael, including Moshe Rabbeinu, were equal recipients. Moshe Rabbeinu was not singled out.
The Shira at Kriyas Yam Suf was Shira on the entire Geula. Moshe, the uniter, and Bnei Yisrael, the united, together burst forth in Shira to Hashem. Through complete joy and unity, they ascended the heights to sing the Shira that we will soon sing once again.


RABBI ELCHANAN STERN

For forty years in the Midbar, Bnei Yisrael subsisted on מן, Manna. Then things changed. No more מן. Time to don the farmer’s overalls and work the land. Since then, the world’s economy has developed and changed. Many have exchanged the field for the office and overalls for business attire. Either way, no more free lunches, or, for that matter, breakfasts and suppers.
Yet it is very important to also understand what has not changed. Rashi (Shemos 16:32) explains:בימי ירמיהו, כשהיה ירמיהו מוכיחם למה אין אתם עוסקים בתורה והם אומרים נניח מלאכתנו ונעסוק בתורה מהיכן נספרנס, הוציא להם צנצנת המן, אמר להם… בזה נספרנסו אבותיכם, הרבה שלוחין יש לו למקום להכין מזון ליראיו., “In the days of Yirmiyahu, when Yirmiyahu was rebuking them (Bnei Yisrael), saying, ‘Why do you not occupy yourselves with Torah study,’ and they answered him, ‘Shall we leave our work and engage ourselves with Torah? How would we sustain ourselves?’ He brought out to them the jar of מן and said to them… ‘Your ancestors were sustained with this. The Omnipresent has many messengers to provide sustenance to those who fear Him.’”
מן no longer falls from the sky; now we need to invest effort. But our effort is just that, and nothing more. Our sustenance, as with the מן, comes wholly from HaKadosh Boruch Hu. In that respect, nothing has changed, and it never will. The Midrash comments on the passage (Bereishis 2:3), “And He blessed the seventh day and sanctified it.” He blessed it with מן, and a double portion fell on Friday; He sanctified it with מן, and it did not fall on Shabbos (quoted by Rashi there). Rav C.Y. Goldwicht explained that the sanctification was a reinforcement that the מן was a Divine miracle. Even something as patently supernatural as the מן would lose its mystery if it fell every day. הרגל מביא לידי שכחה – regularity leads to forgetfulness. So, too, we must constantly reinforce our sense of dependency on Hashem for Parnassa.
Thus, Yirmiyahu offers a timely and timeless lesson in faith and its practical application. From a secular perspective, arranging a work schedule which allows for regular Talmud Torah may disrupt our pursuit of our livelihood. In reality, however, “Kvi’as Ittim LaTorah” does not interfere with HaKadosh Baruch Hu’s ability or plans to provide our sustenance.
In dealing with the Melacha of Mechabeh, extinguishing a flame, the Mishna (Shabbos 2:3) speaks of one who extinguishes a flame because he is concerned about not wasting money by needlessly burning oil –כחס על השמן . The Vilna Gaon (ad loc) interprets the “Chaf” as a “Chaf Hadimyon”, i.e. the Chaf of comparison: It is as if he is saving money. In actuality, he is not saving anything. One’s sustenance is from Hashem, and surely will not be diminished by Shemiras Shabbos. In fact, keeping Shabbos only increases one’s Parnassa. This is highlighted by Chazal’s promise (Beitza 16a) that expenditures for Shabbos are not included in the decree of how much one will earn in any given year.
The Chafetz Chaim, in his Sefer Ahavas Chesed (footnote to 2:4), presents a fascinating insight into the nature of Parnassa. Dovid Hamelech declares (Tehillim 62:13), “For kindness belongs to you, for you compensate every man according to his actions.” The Chafetz Chaim asks, Shouldn’t Hashem’s compensation for man’s actions be considered an act of justice and not kindness? He answers that it is analogous to an artisan who provides free room, board, clothing, raw materials, and tools to his apprentice. He need not feel obligated to compensate the apprentice for his work, or even at all. Similarly, Hashem, Who provides us with our Parnassa and other needs and gives us all of our abilities in order to serve Him, does not need to reward us for our actions. Nevertheless, because of His kindness, He indeed does compensate us both in this world and the next.
מן no longer falls from Heaven. But things have not changed. Our sustenance comes from HaKadosh Baruch Hu. It may appear tempting to pay cash and avoid sales tax, but are we really saving?