Friday, January 14, 2011

BeShalach 5631 Fifth Ma'amar

In this week's parsha we find Shiras HaYam/the song of the sea that the nation of Israel sang after being saved from the Egyptian army with the parting of the sea.  "אז ישיר משה ובני ישראל את השירה הזאת .../Then Moshe and the children of Israel sang this song …" (Shmos 15:1)  The Hebrew for "ישיר/sang" is in the future tense.  Why?  Rashi explains that the future tense signifies premeditation.  Moshe Rabbeinu first desired to sing and then sang.  This explains the future tense but why does the Torah tell us this?  Obviously all actions are premeditated.  We first think to perform an action and then act.  Even if the Torah had written שר/sang in past tense we would not have assumed otherwise.  What, then, is the Torah teaching us by using the future tense here?

Understanding the significance of song and by extension of all our actions will shed light on this question.  Singing the Shiras HaYam was more than just a message of thanksgiving to God.  Each letter of the Torah contains deep mysteries that we cannot even fathom.  Singing the Shira, or for that matter, learning any part of the Torah should have great ramifications in the spiritual realms and in this world.  However, is anyone of us on a level to effect such ramifications?  And yet the Torah tells us that the nation of Israel sang the Shira.  

The answer is that even though no one is on the level to influence the spiritual realms through his action and words in this world, God structured the world such that the spiritual is affected by our actions and words anyway.  A Jew has the power to "activate" the power latent in the letters of the Torah so that they enlighten spiritual realms not because he is on a high spiritual level.  Rather, we have this power because God gave it to us.

The Torah tells us that the nation sang the Shira, meaning that the spiritual power inherent in their words was activated and lit up, as it were, the spiritual realms.  Chazal teach us the same concept when they said that if one person starts a mitzvah and another completes it, the mitzvah is considered to "belong" to the one who completed it.  Whatever spiritual effect the mitzvah has is activated only when the second person completed it.  So, the mitzvah is considered to "belong" to him.

We see this concept as well in a Zohar[1] that says that our prayers split the heavens.  Certainly no one has the spiritual power to do this and yet the Zohar tells us that the prayers of every one of us split the heavens.  How is this?  The answer is that God made it so.  Our prayers split the heavens even though we have no knowledge of this and are not on a level to do it.

Even though left to our own devices, we do not have the power to affect the spiritual through our actions we do have the ability to desire this.  Our job is to cultivate a strong desire to achieve God's will.  God does the rest. 

The Torah uses the future tense ישיר/he will sing, which according to Rashi indicates premeditation, in order to teach us this.  Rashi says that Moshe Rabbeinu first cultivated a desire to sing – with all the implied spiritual ramifications.  Once he cultivated this desire, he was able to do it because God made it so.  

Our intent and desire is the key.  God knows that we do not have the spiritual power on our own.  In Tikunei Zohar[2] Chazal teach us that the Torah that a person learns without love and awe of God does not rise up to the spiritual realms.  Here too, we see that what is happening in our minds is the primary mover.

[1] Zohar 2:201a
[2] Tikunei Zohar, Tikun 10, 25b

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