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Parsha Sheet: Beshalach – Harmonious Systems

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Think Before you sing?

Az Yashir Moshe – Then will sing (yashir) Moshe. It that should say “then sang (shar) Moshe”! Why is there the extra letter “Yud” that makes it the future tense? Rashi explains: then, when Moshe saw the miracle it occurred in his heart to sing. Rashi cites further examples from Tanach that the extra “Yud” refers to thinking first. Moshe’s heart told him to sing and he followed through in front of all the Jewish people. The letter “Yud” refers to the ‘thought’. There are two issues to raise here: First of all, is this not the case for everything a thinking person does? He thinks before he acts or says something! What is different about Moshe’s song that makes it more “thought out in advance”?  Secondly, why does the letter “Yud” symbolize “thinking”?

Rashi adds another idea from Chazal forts conventional purpose of making the verb future tense and “Then Moshe will sing” and it is alluding the resurrection of the Dead that will be in the future – then Moshe will sing again. Why is the resurrection being alluded to in the song that they’re singing in appreciation of “Kerias Yam Suf”?

Preconditions with Nature

A few Pesukim earlier (14:27) it says “and the Sea returned towards morning to “L’eitano”- to its original strength”. Chazal say that the word “L’eitano”- should be inverted to read “L’Tena’o” to its condition, meaning to say Hashem had made a precondition with the Seas that they must part for Benei Yisroel at the time ‘Kerias Yam suf’! Chazal go on to say that all the Miracles that ever happened come from preconditions that Hashem made with nature at the time of creation! Why does Hashem have to make preconditions with nature to allow for miracles? Why was this message taught to us by ‘Kerias Yam Suf’ in particular? Why is the allusion to the preconditions allowing for miracles by where the water actually reverts back to its natural state (original strength)? The allusion to the precondition facilitating Miracles should have been by where the water split!

The Finger and the Hand

On Seder night we read in the Haggadah the famous three way machlokes between Rabi Yosi Hagelili, Rabi Eliezer, and Rabi Akiva as to the extent of the Makos in Egypt and on Yam Suf respectively. All of them agree that whatever it was in Egypt it was 5 times worse at Yam Suf. By the plague of ‘Kinim’ in Egypt it says it was “a Finger of Hashem” and by Yam Suf it says: “and Yisroel saw the Hand of Hashem” A hand has five times as many fingers. The math doesn’t work: The one plague of ‘Kinim’ alone was called a finger, not all 10 plagues together! Seemingly, in Egypt they got 10 “fingers” and on Yam Suf only 5 “fingers”. Furthermore, by the plague of ‘Dever’ in Egypt it says: “the Hand of Hashem will strike your livestock”. The term “Hand” is used in the plagues in Egypt as well!

The Exception vs The Rule

The Maharal explains that the difference between “finger” and “hand” is not a quantitative difference but rather a qualitative difference. It is the difference between a single details versus an entire integrated system. The “finger” represents a detail. A “hand” is not five fingers. Five chopped off fingers in a bag does not constitute a hand. It is a “hand” by virtue of how the five fingers are connected to the palm and function in the integrated unit call the “hand”. In mitzrayim Pharo did a very good job at hardening his own heart for the first five plagues. What was he thinking, after having suffered so much each time? In science we determined that something is a “law” when get the same results all the time. If in some isolated instances the experiment yields a different result, we aren’t concerned. So long as overwhelming majority the same result is reached we will disregard the instances where we got a different result. We will assume that either we did not conduct the experiment correctly or some “fluke” happened. “Flukes” do not repeat themselves. Therefore, they’re not something to worry about. The Pesukim say over and over that “when Pharo saw that the plague passed he hardened his heart” meaning: he dismissed the plagues as a “flukes”. Humanity saw all 10 plagues in Egypt as “fingers”- details which are exceptions to the rules of nature. Even though it says “the Hand of Hashem will strike your livestock…” it doesn’t say that anyone saw the “Hand”. The plagues of Egypt looked like “fingers” – exceptions to the rules of nature.

Miracles as an Integrated System

At Yam Suf, not only did the waters split but so did all the waters in the world! It was a Global miracle affecting the entire element of water! This cannot be called an “exception to the rule”. An ‘exception’ is just a detail and this miracle affected the whole of water! By ‘Kerias Yam Suf’ the “Hand” is revealed, meaning that Miracles are not exceptions to the rules of nature, they are a whole system onto their own! They saw the Hand means that they realized that Miracles are a whole integrated system.

Reconciling conflicting systems

This raises a crucial question: are there conflicting systems in reality? So long as there’s only one set of rules, the fact that some exceptions happen here and there is not a major issue. These flukes will not repeat themselves. However, once it is established that Miracles are whole system onto their own, and not flukes, you have two equally real and recurrent systems seemingly in conflict with each other! How is reality not torn apart by two conflicting systems? That is the function of the ‘preconditions’! Those ‘conditions’ reconcile the two systems as to when events will be natural and when nature ‘bows out’ and miracles take over.

Why is Nature so strong?

There is a deeper Point here: Not only is there ‘harmony’ between the two systems, but the supernatural actually fuels nature! We look at the laws of nature and we view them as laws as stable and immutable. That’s why miracles seem ‘impossible’. Where does nature get that strength from? Miracles! The ‘Leshem Shevo V’Achlama’ explains: the ‘conditions’ were as follows: Nature will “Eitan” – strong, “Btenai”-conditionally. Meaning to say: The system of miracles grants strength to the system of nature on condition that nature always be consistent with what Hashem wants for the world. Hashem wants the Jewish people and the Torah. If those two agendas are ever at Peril, the laws of nature have to give way for miracles to take over and save the day. What is ‘danger’? When the ‘natural circumstances’ are hostile to your existence. When the Jewish people are in ‘danger’ nature ‘goes limp’ and miracles take over to save them. We now understand why the allusion to the “condition with nature” is by the waters reverting back to their natural state. Their ‘original strength’ (as Rashi defines it) is all on condition that it be consistent with the same agenda that the Miracles support.

Body & Soul

Man, being a microcosm of the entirety of reality, has the entirety of these two systems represented in him. His body is a creature of nature encompassing the entirety of the natural world and his soul is from the higher world and is inclusive of all the higher Spheres as well as the spiritual dimension of the earthly sphere. Body and soul seem to be in a constant struggle parallel to the perceived struggle between the natural and the supernatural. The truth is, just like in the struggle between the natural and the supernatural is a misperception, and really the supernatural feeds the natural, so also the perceived battle between body and soul is a misperception. The soul gives the body not only life but a higher level of intelligence beyond what about biochemical brain achieve: prophecy and the secrets of the Torah.

The Song of the Neshama

The Nefesh HaChaim tells us that in any word in Hebrew there are three levels Parallel to the three prime levels of the soul. The letters are parallel to the ‘Nefesh’ which resides in the body. The ‘Nekudos’-vowels are parallel to the ‘Ruach’   that gives us our power of speech. The musical movement of the word called the ‘Taamim’ (in Yiddish ‘trop’) is parallel to the level called ‘Neshama’ which gives us the ability to understand the depths of the Torah. The root of the word ‘Taamim’ is ‘Taam’ which means ‘reason’. If we want understand the inner reasoning of the Torah we can only do so with the power of our ‘Neshama’, the biochemical brain cannot fathom the depths of the Divine Torah. ‘Musical movement’ adds a depth of thought and emotion to the word. It reveals what you’re thinking in addition to just the literal meaning of the word. The Gemara in Menachos says on the possuk “with the Name “Y-H” Hashem fashioned worlds” with the letter “Yud” Hashem fashioned the higher world where the Neshaman came from and encompasses. As the ‘conditions’ which are the ‘portal of harmony’ between nature and supernatural opened up, the Jewish people’s bodies and souls were affected. They started feeling an open flow of communication between their souls and bodies, with the ‘Neshama’ giving levels of perception to the body they never experienced before! Chazal say “even a maid servant at Yam Suf saw more than the prophet Yechezkel”. The letter “Yud” with which the heavenly was created, is added to the verb ‘sing’ alluding  to the depth of spiritual thought from their Heavenly souls that occurred to them before they started  ‘singing’ which means adding a level of thought above and beyond the literal meaning of the words.


With this we can understand the other Rashi that says that the future tense alludes to the resurrection. The illusion of the perceived struggle between body and soul is reinforced by the idea of death. Body and soul are doomed to Part ways, indicating that they can only ‘hold it together’ temporarily at best. By the Resurrection that misconception is set straight as we will see the body and soul fused together in the most amazing harmony, to be together forever and never to part. In the world of the resurrection the system of miracles and the system of nature will be totally fused.

Why Now?

After ‘Kerias Yam suf’ they went 3 days without water. The Gemara in Bava Kama say that it refers going 3 days without Torah learning, total and they had to get some mitzvos to learn. Moshe Rabbeinu instituted that from then on we must read from the Torah every 3 days. The question is: they went their whole lives without learning Torah! Why is it that suddenly they can’t go 3 days without learning Torah? The answer is: ever since “Kerias Yam Suf’ they can feel their souls! The portal between the nature and supernatural, between body and soul, was revealed and now they forever feel even within their bodies the unqueshible thirst of the soul for the Torah.

Sponsored Liluy Nishmas Dovid ben Reuven Michoel z’l

Good Shabbos.

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