Israel Forever

For the week ending 18 January 2003 / 15 Shevat 5763

A Shabbat of Song

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Library

How should a nation respond to the approach of a dangerous enemy?

Does the answer lie only in more sophisticated defense systems and more powerful deterrent bombs?

While this may be true for other nations, the history of the Jewish people indicates that there is another element as well.

In the Torah portion we read in synagogues on this Shabbat Shirah we echo the song of praise to Heaven our ancestors sang as the Egyptian army pursuing them drowned in the sea. But we also relive the anxiety they felt before the sea miraculously split for them and they saw Pharaoh and his troops drawing near. At that moment they adopted the tactic of their forefathers who prayed to Heaven in time of need.

The phrase used by the Torah to describe Pharaoh "drawing near" is interpreted by the Midrash as more than just an account of the frightening pursuit. It also signals that the Egyptian ruler succeeded in drawing his Israelite quarry nearer to their Creator by heightening their sense of dependence on divine mercy.

The special prayers which are daily said in synagogues throughout Israel and the world for the security of Jews in their Holy Land are echoes of the prayers of our ancestors. Prayers which were answered then with a miraculous rescue followed by song. Our prayers too will be answered and we shall joyously sing the praise of G-d who will save Israel forever.

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