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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS B'SHALACH 5773 BS"D

Ch. 15, v. 19: "Ki va sus Paroh" - Because/when Paroh's horse came - On parshas B'shalach 5761 I wrote: < In our Torah Scrolls we find our verse written in the "shiroh" format. The Abudraham writes that the reason we repeat the verse, "Hashem yimloch l'olom vo'ed" and then follow it with its Targum, "Hashem malchu'sei ko'eim l'olam ulolmei olma'ya," "shna'yim mikra v'echod Targum" in our daily "p'sukei d'zimroh" is to show that this is the last verse of the "shiroh." This on its own is good and fine. However, it seems to contradict our Torah scrolls, where "Ki voh sus Paroh " is written in the "shiroh" format. Any help would be GREATLY appreciated.>>

Rabbi Yisroel Bollag nR"u, Rosh Kollel Ohel Yom Tov, has brought to my attention that this question is cited by Rabbi Mordechai Carlebach in Chavatzelles Hashoron in the name of Ner Dovid, who actually raises this issue on the Ram'o, who in Sh.O. O.Ch. #51:7 cites the Abudrohom, that we repeat "Hashem yimloch" in "p'sukei d'zimroh" to indicate that it is the final verse of the "shiroh," and at the same time in Sh.O. Y.D. #275:4 posits, as does the "m'cha'beir" that "Ki va " is written in the "shiroh" format.

Rabbi Carlebach answers that there are two aspects to a parshas "shiroh," the actual quoted words of the "shiroh," and the PARSHA of "shiroh." This means that there is a section of the Torah called "shiroh" which can also extend beyond the actual words of the "shiroh," and the actual quote. He brings a proof for this from "shiras D'voroh," which ends with, "Vatishkot ho'oretz arbo'im shonoh" (Shoftim 5:31), which appears in the "shiroh" format, although it is clearly not part of D'voroh's song, as noted by Rashi there. He adds that the first verse, "Oz yoshir" begins with the regular format of continuous words with no "staggered brick" spacing even though it is in the PARSHA of "shiroh." He cites the opinion of the Gri"z and his own understanding of maseches Sofrim 12:10 to bolster this. (n.b. - It would seem that this is evidenced by the words "Oz yoshir" beginning after a full blank line), we must say that this was the "mesoroh" of how Hashem told Moshe to lay out these words.

There seems to be an inherent difficulty with saying that "Oz yoshir " is part of the "Shiroh," not just the parsha of "shiroh" and has its own format, and yet, the second half of this SAME verse changes to the "staggered brick" format. An alternative approach is offered: Step one is that there is an ongoing theme with Pesach where Hashem praises us and we praise Him. We all know the insight of the Kedushas Levi on Pesach that Hashem named the holiday Pesach "chag hamatzos" to praise the bnei Yisroel for leaving Egypt with full trust in Hashem, taking along only matzos as provisions. Nowhere does the Torah call the Yom Tov "chag haPesach." On the other hand, we praise Hashem for having mercy upon us and skipping over our homes during the plague of the smiting of the first born, hence we call it "chag haPesach." He takes this concept from the gemara Brochos 6a that says that the script in Hashem's tefillin praise the bnei Yisroel, while the script in the bnei Yisroel's tefillin praise Hashem.

In the 5761 edition of Sedrah Selections on parshas B'shalach this concept was applied to the splitting of Yam Suf. << The Haa'meik Dovor says that Hashem told Moshe to use the staff and to also use his hand only. The intention of doing both these actions was to initiate both a miracle that is openly above the rules of nature, and that is done with the use of the miraculous staff, and a miracle that is hidden within the rules of nature, and that is done without the use of the staff. Whether Hashem would wrought an overt or covert miracle depended upon the reaction of the bnei Yisroel when push came to shove at the brink of the Yam Suf. If they would just wait there, hoping for Hashem's salvation, He would respond with a covert miracle, having the east wind blow so strongly that it would stop the flow of the Yam Suf and create a path in it for the bnei Yisroel to cross. If they would jump into the Yam Suf, relying on a miracle, Hashem would respond in kind, by overtly miraculously splitting the Yam Suf. Indeed a path was beginning to be formed in the Yam Suf by the driving wind, as mentioned in verse 21, "Va'yolech Hashem es ha'yom b'ruach kodim azoh kol halayloh va'yo'sem es ha'yom lechorovoh," - Hashem guided the Yam Suf with a powerful eastern wind all night and the Yam Suf began to dry, until Nachshon ben Aminodov jumped in and the water totally split in a flash, as the verse ends "va'yiboku hamayim." This is somewhat similar to the Rashbam in that there was an act to initiate the east wind to blow and another act to initiate the splitting of the Yam Suf. However, the Rashbam says the opposite of the Haa'meik Dovor, that the blowing of the wind was initiated with the staff, while the stretching of his hand over the Yam Suf to make it split was done without the staff.

It seems that with the insight of Haa'meik Dovor an answer can be given to the well known question of the difference in terminology found in the Torah for the splitting of the Yam Suf 14:16, "U'V'KO'EIHU" and 14:21, "VAYIBOKU hamayim," and the term used by Chazal of KRIAS Yam Suf. The gemara Brochos 6a says that the text in our tefillin give praise to Hashem, while the text in Hashem's tefillin praise the bnei Yisroel, as they contain the verse "Umi k'amcho Yisroel goy echod bo'oretz" (Shmuel 2:7:23, Divrei Hayomim 1:17:21). The Kedushas Levi similarly explains that we call the Yom Tov Pesach to show our appreciation of Hashem Who jumped (had mercy) over the homes of the bnei Yisroel when He smote the Egyptian firstborn. Hashem, in turn, calls the Yom Tov "Chag Hamatzos" (Shmos 23:15), extolling the praises of the bnei Yisroel by stressing that they left Egypt with only matzos as their provisions, totally trusting in Hashem.

As mentioned earlier, if the bnei Yisroel would not have shown that they believed in Hashem's miracles to save them, He still would have saved them with the covert miracle of the wind cutting a path in the Yam Suf. This would happen by stopping the flow of the water a bit at a time, slowly creating a path in the Yam Suf, as mentioned in verse 21.

We can explain the difference between the terms B'KIOH and KRIOH as follows. B'KIOH means a total splitting of something in one go, as we find the term "shema yiboka hanode" (gemara Eiruvin 37b), meaning perhaps the keg will burst, which takes place in a moment. KRIOH means ripping. Although one can rip something in a moment, the action of ripping is actually a bit by bit process, as continued pressure is exerted throughout the process. Going with the maxim that Hashem praises us for our actions and we praise Him for His, the Torah calls the splitting of the Yam Suf B'KIOH, as this refers to the total sundering of the body of water in two in a split moment by Hashem, a measure for measure response to our high level of belief in Him to even bring about an overt miracle for our benefit. Thus with the use of the word form B'KIOH great praise is conferred upon the bnei Yisroel. We, on the other hand, want to praise Hashem and call the splitting of the Yam Suf KRIOH, as this refers to Hashem's readiness to save us by having the powerful east wind clear a path for us in the Yam Suf, a bit by bit process similar to ripping. This choice of terminology confers a great praise upon Hashem indicating that He would have saved us even if we did not have the high level of trust in Him to wrought an overt miracle.>>

In the verse "Oz Yoshir" it says, "Va'yomru leimore oshiroh laShem ki go'o go'oh." "Va'yomru leimore" seems repetitive. A well-known explanation is that the bnei Yisroel were about to exclaim their great praise of Hashem through the "shiroh." They had one choice of only praising Hashem for His becoming exalted in the eyes of not only the Egyptians, but also all the other nations, Ki go'o go'oh, Shmu amim yirgozun," etc., a far cry from Paroh's exclaiming, "Mi Hashem asher eshma b'kolo." They also had a choice of lauding Hashem for saving them from death and/or a return to slavery under even harsher terms, given that they ran away. Lastly, they had a choice of incorporating both themes into the "shiroh." The bnei Yisroel said, "Leimore oshiroh laShem ki go'o go'oh." Let us not sing the praises of being saved, but rather, only the praises of Hashem's becoming exalted. This is a most beautiful insight into "Va'yomru leimore." Nowhere in the "shiroh" do we find mention of the bnei Yisroel being saved, SAVE the last six words of the verse, "Ki va soos Paroh "

We now apply the concept of the Kedushas Levi. Hashem in His Torah wrote the "Shiroh" of the bnei Yisroel, bereft of their being saved as per their conscious choice, until in this final verse. Hashem adds this to extol the bnei Yisroel, that they were saved by an overt miracle. This verse is part of the "shiroh" and is formatted accordingly. However, when it comes to our daily prayers, we want to only extol Hashem and leave out the last verse, as it mentions our being saved. This is why we repeat "Hashem yimloch," to indicate that this was the end of the praises lauded upon Hashem by the bnei Yisroel. Those who afterwards do say "Ki voh" do so because it is factually part of the "shiroh." In conclusion, this is another application of "Hashem praises His chosen nation bnei Yisroel, and bnei Yisroel praise Hashem.

As far as the words "Vatishkote ho'oretz arbo'im shonoh," albeit that it is not part of the "shiroh," there is nothing that can be done differently. The earlier words of the verse are part of the "shiroh" and require a space after them. (n.l.)

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See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a


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