Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Beshalach

The following is a brief summary of two vorts said over by R' Frand this evening. I have attempted to reproduce the vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

This evening, Rabbi Frand said over two vorts on the Az Yashir - the song that the Jews recited when they were crossing the Yam Suf when leaving Egypt.

The first vort asked the famous question of Rashi (and others) - why the use of the conflicting tenses in Az Yashir? It should have been Az Shar - then they sang. The gemara answers that this is a proof to techias hameisim (resurrection of the dead) from the Torah.

Rabbi Frand then asked - why is this source for techias hameisim? R' Frand answered by quoting the Chiddushei Harim who explains that there is an obligation on every Jew to believe in certain things. Among the obligatory beliefs are that Hashem created the world and that He will resurrect the dead.

The problem for those who left Egypt was that they did not need faith to recognize G-d and believe in His power. The gemara writes that a maidservant who crossed the Yam Suf had a greater understanding of Hashem than the prophet Yechezkel. As this was the case, it was difficult for the people of that generation to satisfy their obligation to believe in Hashem. R' Frand used the example - if you see my hand in front of you, it would be difficult for you to believe on blind faith alone that I have five fingers up. Since the person can see my hand, he does not need to believe me when I tell him the five fingers are up, he can see it for himself.

In order for the people at Yam Suf to satisfy their obligation to believe without seeing, they needed some other quality of Hashem to believe in. It is for this reason that the language of Az Yashir is used - to show that they demonstrated belief in Hashem and his powers by believing that He will resurrect the dead.

Rabbi Frand's second vort was based on the sefer Chikrei Lev who asked two questions about the Az Yashir. The first question was - why is the Az Yashir in the Pesukei D'Zmirah part of davening. The second question asked was - why is there no mention of Egypt in Az Yashir?

Rabbi Frand answered that the miracle of Yam Suf was a personal battle between Hashem and Pharaoh. The purpose of Yam Suf was to prove to Pharaoh and the world that Pharaoh was not the god that he pretended to be. Pharaoh pretended to be a god and put on a charade that he never went to the bathroom. Yam Suf demonstrated that Pharaoh is not a god and that there is no other besides Hashem.

With this understanding, we can comprehend why the Az Yashir is in Pesukei D'Zimrah. While the song is a song of praise to Hashem, it also is a demonstration that Hashem is the only G-d. This is a prelude to Krias Shma, when we publicly accept and affirm that there is only one G-d - Hashem. To begin this process, we say the Az Yashir wherein Hashem demonstrated the falsity of Pharaoh's claim to being a deity and with which we conclude with the phrase that Hashem will be King on all the world and on that day He will be one and His name will be one.

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