פרשת בשלח - Kew Gardens Synagogue

‫פרשת בשלח‬
)‫ (פרק טו' ב‬.‫ אלק' אבי ורממנהו‬,‫לי ואנוהו‬-‫ה ויהי לי לישועה; זה א‬-‫עזי וזמרת י‬
Hashem's strength and power to eradicate has been a salvation for me. This is my G-d and I will
beautify Him; (this is ) the G-d of my father and I will exalt him.
The initial segment of the pasuk is translated as per Rashi who renders this based on a detailed
and very technical grammatical analysis of the words ‫ עזי‬and ‫זמרת‬. Onkelos interprets this
phrase as "my strength and my praise." Ibn Ezra expands on this and explains that the phrase
should be understood as if it were written: ‫ה‬-‫ י‬,‫ עזי וזמרת עזי‬i.e. my might and the song of my
might, is Hashem. The singer is acknowledging that the power that has gained him this victory is
not his own but Hashem's. This is consistent with Mechilta which says, " ‫אין עזי אלא תקפי‬
)'‫(ירמיה טז‬...‫ ה' עזי ומעזי‬,‫שנאמר‬-‫ עזי‬is to be interpreted (only) as strength/power, as it says,
'Hashem, Who is my strength and my power...'" It presents an alternative explanation that ‫עזי‬
means that Hashem is "the aide and benefactor" of all the world but especially ‫בני ישראל‬." It
continues and says that ‫ וזמרת‬related to ‫ ואמרת‬and therefore ‫ה‬-‫ וזמרת י‬means that Hashem
has made us His ‫ אמרה‬and we have reciprocated by making Him ours-as per the pasukim in
'‫דברים כו‬: "...‫וה' האמירך היום להיות לו לעם סגולה‬...‫את ה' האמרת היום להיות לך אלקים‬/You have
distinguished Hashem today to be G-d for you...And Hashem has distinguished you today to be
for Him a treasured people..." All the world praises Hashem but ‫'כלל ישראל‬s is especially
endearing to Him; For we say in '‫דברים ו‬, "‫שמע ישראל ה' אלקינו ה' אחד‬/Hear O Israel! Hashem is
our G-d, Hashem is One!" and the ‫ שכינה‬replies in '‫דברים לג‬, " ...‫ מי כמוך‬,‫אשריך ישראל‬
/Fortunate are you O Israel: Who is like you?" His nation proclaims in '‫דברים לג‬, " '‫ כה‬...‫כי מי‬
‫אלקינו בכל קראנו אליו‬/Who has...as Hashem, our G-d, whenever we call to Him?" And He
immediately answers, " ..‫כי מי גוי גדול אשר לו אלקים קרובים אליו‬/For which is a great nation that
has a G-d who is so close to it...?" We say in '‫תהלים פט‬, "...‫כי תפארת עוזמו אתה‬/For You are the
splendor of their power..." and HKBH responds in '‫ישעיה מט‬, "‫ אשר בך אתפאר‬,‫ישראל‬/Israel, in
whom I take glory."
The Meshech Chochma believes that this Mechilta is a source for the well-known ‫ חז"ל‬who tell
us that in the tefillin of HKBH are the praises of ‫ כלל ישראל‬and in our tefillin, we write of His.
However, as opposed to .‫ברכות ו‬, which gives us a list of the four ‫ פרשיות‬in Hashem's tefillin,
the Mechilta's list would be somewhat different and would follow the citations mentioned
above i.e. ‫וה' האמירך‬, ‫מי גוי גדול‬, ‫ אשריך ישראל‬and finally ‫ אשר בך אתפאר‬,‫ישראל‬. Rav Meir
Simcha sees this in our pasuk: ‫ עזי‬refers to our tefillin, as the pasuk in '‫ ישעיה סב‬says, " '‫נשבע בה‬
...‫בימינו ובזרוע עוזו‬/Hashem has sworn by His right hand and by His powerful arm..." and ‫וזמרת‬
‫ה‬-‫ י‬refers to His tefillin in which we are praised by Him. The Meshech Chochma feels that when
the Mechilta said that Hashem announced, " ‫ אשר בך אתפאר‬,‫"ישראל‬, Hashem was alluding to
this: "Just as ‫ כלל ישראל‬wears their tefillin, I wear Mine, " for we know that tefillin are referred
to as ‫ !פאר‬On a practical level, both the Mechilta and the ‫ גמרא ברכות‬are teaching us the same
lesson: The mitzva of Tefillin represents the special relationship between ‫ אבינו שבשמים‬and His
‫ ;בן יחיד‬the ‫ פרשיות‬in them proclaim this relationship and our wearing them reinforces and
rejuvenates our bond.
)‫ (פרק טו' טז‬.‫ עד יעבר עם זו קנית‬,'‫עד יעבר עמך ה‬
...until your people will pass through, Hashem; until this people You have acquired will pass
‫ חז"ל‬use this pasuk to contrast the entering of ‫ בני ישראל‬into ‫ ארץ ישראל‬under Yehoshua's
leadership, highlighted by the pomp and circumstance of the vanquishing of the nations of
Canaan versus the re-entering of the land after ‫גלות בבל‬, led by Ezra, which was extremely
subdued and in fact required permission from the Persian monarchy. And yet, the Meshech
Chochma points out, there was clearly something special when Ezra returned, for we know
Rambam rules that the sanctification of ‫ ארץ ישראל‬via the ‫ ביאה ראשונה‬, dissipated after the
expulsion by ‫( נבוכדנצר‬excluding ‫ירושלים והמקדש‬, which never loses its ‫ קדושה‬for it was
"created" by the ‫'שכינה‬s presence which never leaves.) On the other hand, the ‫קדושה שניה‬,
imparted by Ezra and his ‫עולים‬, lasts forever. He explains this as follows: The well-known ‫גמרא‬
in .‫ שבת פח‬informs us that when ‫ כלל ישראל‬displayed a reluctance to accept the Torah, HKBH
lifted ‫ הר סיני‬and inverted it as a bowl and threatened that if ‫ עם ישראל‬would not accept His
Torah, He would smother the nation under it. They reluctantly agreed. Rav Acha bar Yaakov
declares that if Hashem "summons them to court" for not fulfilling their pledge to observe the
Torah, they could be absolved from punishment by stating that the commitment was coerced!
Rava adds however, that in the days of Achashveirosh, the Jews willingly re-accepted the Torah.
Rashba asks, "If so, why were they punished with expulsion during the period of the first Beis
HaMikdash, which preceded their re-acceptance?" He answers that although they were forced
to accept the mitzvos at ‫הר סיני‬, they were nevertheless given the land of Israel to perform
them in, certainly the ones pertaining to the Land. Once they began to go astray, there was "no
need" for them to be there and were eventually expelled from the Land. Rav Meir Simcha adds
that with their status as ‫ אנוסים‬and now being outside the Land, the ‫ קדושת הארץ‬was also
removed for there was no real obligation to do any of the mitzvos. When they re-entered ‫ארץ‬
‫ישראל‬, which was after their ‫קימו וקבלו‬, they willingly "signed the contract" to observe
Hashem's Torah, the Land now became more than just a place to do the mitzvos, it became
one of the 613-and just as the mitzvos remain forever, so does the Land's ‫ !קדושה‬Its sanctity is
no more dependent on the Jewish people actually being there, for just as the Torah is eternal,
so does the Land of Israel maintain its sanctity forever. So in fact Ezra's quiet return produced a
seismic change as the ‫!קדושה שניה קידשה לעתיד לבא‬
‫לזכר נשמת אבי מורי ישראל מנחם בן שלום ז"ל‬
‫ולזכר נשמת הרב יהודה בן אברהם שמחה זצ"ל‬