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Simcha Groffman

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Parashas Beshalach

Our National Anthem

"Today is the big day. The entire nation has been waiting for months for this day."

"Yes, today is the coronation of the king."

"Today's coronation ceremony is the culmination of a long process of selecting a successor to the throne. The king's lineage and ancestry have been checked out thoroughly. He comes from a glorious family. His leadership qualities have also been investigated. Does he share the same goals as the nation? Yes. Is he someone whom the people would accept as their leader? Definitely. Similarly, would he accept them as his subjects? Absolutely. Many, many factors had to be checked, rechecked, and clarified until we could come to this day, the culmination of it all, the royal coronation."

"We have all gathered here in the capitol city to crown the king and accept his rule. Look, the royal officers are lowering the crown upon his highness's head!"

"The excitement of the moment is indescribable."

"The king is crowned! Long live the king! Long live his subjects! The royal orchestra will now lead the nation in singing the national anthem."

"What a joyous moment! We lift our voices in song to praise our king and his rule! We exult in being his subjects! This moment is the pinnacle of our rejoicing!"

Rav Yerucham Levovitz zt"l compares the Shira of "Az Yashir" at the Yom Suf to the national anthem sung at the coronation of the king. Hashem became the King over Klal Yisrael. We had previously seen His power, and accepted His kingship in Mitzrayim, as the following verses state. "So that you will know that I am Hashem in the midst of the land" (Shemos 8:18). "So that you will know that there is none like Hashem our G-d" (Shemos 8:6). "The people feared Hashem, they believed in Hashem and in His servant Moshe" (from the Shacharis prayers). However, they had not come to that exalted level of "shira" - expressing the pure joy and gratitude in their hearts by lifting their voices in song. Only at the Yom Suf - "His kingship they willingly accepted upon themselves, Moshe and the Children of Israel, sang to You shira with great joy" (from the Maariv prayers).

What is this great shira that they sang? "Hashem shall reign for all eternity!" (Shemos 15:18). We accepted His Kingship upon ourselves until the end of time! "This is my G-d and I will glorify Him!" (Shemos 15:2). When a person is proud of someone, he cannot resist telling everyone about that person's great accomplishments. He does everything he can to praise and glorify that person; buying for him the nicest gifts, and serving him in the best way possible. "The G-d of my father, and I will exalt Him!" (Shemos 15:2). A person who is a descendant of great Torah personalities takes special pleasure in retelling the exalted accomplishments of his ancestors. "My grandfather was the Rav of his town." "My great grandfather was a Rosh Yeshiva." "My uncle wrote several sefarim on shas."

And so, this is the joy of our shira. We proclaim Hashem as our King. We glorify Him by beautifying the mitzvos - our service to Him. We take special pride in being His chosen nation, and exalt Him with praise. This is the song that we sing to Hashem every day, with great joy and exultation in our hearts.

Kinderlach . . .

"Az Yashir" is the last of the "pesukei di'zimra". We say it every morning. Rav Yerucham describes this song as our national anthem. With intense happiness, we proclaim Hashem's kingship. It is the pinnacle of His coronation, and declares our loyalty to His Holiness. Kinderlach, say this shira every morning with great joy in your hearts! Hashem is King! We are His chosen nation! He is my G-d, and I have the privilege of serving Him in the most beautiful way possible! He is the G-d of my father and I praise Him endlessly! Az Yashir - our national anthem - the song of joy to Hashem!

Having Mercy Brings Mercy

Klal Yisrael was afraid. They were surrounded by danger. Would they merit another miracle? They cried out to Hashem. "Why are you crying out to Me?" (Shemos 14:15), He asked Moshe. The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh is puzzled by this verse. Hashem wants us to cry out to Him in times of trouble. It demonstrates our faith in Him. Why was this time different? He answers according to the Medrash. Klal Yisrael was being judged at that time. The accusing angel claimed that the nation who had worshipped idols in Mitzraim did not deserve to be saved. Hashem was in a dilemma (so to speak). The angel was correct. They needed to perform a merciful deed to save themselves. Their mercy would allow Hashem to use His Middas HaRachamim (Merciful Judgment) to save them. Therefore Hashem instructed Moshe, "Tell the Children of Israel that they shall travel (forward into the sea)" (Shemos 14:15). They were to move into the water unaware that it would split. And so they were moser nefesh (prepared to sacrifice their lives), with complete faith. This awesome act of emunah was a tremendous chessed for the Almighty. It showed the accuser how much they trusted Him. And so, this act of chessed, which showed their rachmonus for the Almighty, allowed Hashem to judge them with Middas HaRachamim, and they were saved.

Kinderlach . . .

We all need Hashem's mercy. Who can say that they will stand up to His Middas HaDin (strict judgment)? How do we obtain that mercy? By being merciful on others. Acting with rachmonus towards others brings rachmonus upon ourselves. The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh illuminates a new aspect of rachmonus to us. Having rachmonus for The Creator. He set up the world with accusing angels who are waiting to point out our faults and bring destruction upon us. Hashem loves us and wants to save us. However, He needs our help (so to speak). He needs to prove to the accusers that we are worthy of being saved. Have rachmonus on Him and let Him save us. Feel the tsar (suffering) of the Shechina (Divine Presence) when we have to suffer. Use this to motivate you to have mercy and do His Will with all of your might. Fill your heart with rachmonus and emunah, and move forward into the yam.

Parasha Questions:

How does Hashem fight a war (so to speak)? (Rashi 15:3)

How did the evil Mitzrim die? The good ones? The mediocre ones? (Rashi 15:5)

How does Hashem use His left hand (so to speak) when Klal Yisrael follows His will? (Rashi 15:6)

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