by Rabbi Yisrael Kaniel – August 7, 2012
In the beginning of the Torah section of Eikev, Moses reminds us of “The great tests that your eyes saw, and the signs, the wonders, the strong hand, and the outstretched arm with which the L-rd, your G-d, took you out [of Egypt]” (Devarim 7:19). Indeed, after one of the most famous of these miracles, we read of the song that Moses and the nation of Israel began to sing upon their miraculous crossing of the sea and the momentous destruction of their Egyptian pursuers – a monumental climax to the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt where they had been persecuted and enslaved for so many years. “Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to G-d” (Shmot 15:1).
The latter day Torah scholar R. Shimshon Pincus notes that this song is not meant but as some historical matter of fact to inform us of the appreciation that our ancestors showed for G-d and His hand at uplifting and saving them. Rather, we should take this as a lesson to teach us of the appreciation that we ourselves are to show G-d for all that he does for us.
Our renowned King David, indeed, learned this message over and over in the myriads of songs and praises composed in his Tehillim (Psalms) as an expression of all his appreciation for G-d’s hand in all the facets of his sometimes glorious and sometimes torturous life – both prior to and during his tenure as king.
In fact, every Sabbath morning in our prayers, we exclaim our need to express our gratitude to G-d. We say: “For such is the duty of all creatures in Your Presence, O L-rd our G-d and G-d of our fathers, to thank, praise, laud, glorify, extol, honor, bless, exalt and adore you, even beyond all the words of song and praise of David.”
Imagine how thankful and full of praise, R. Pincus points out, we would be had the great miracle of the splitting of the sea happened to us! Yet, we take for granted all the good that G-d performs for us. Our Sages say that man’s sustenance is as tremendous as the splitting of the sea (Babylonian Talmud, Pesachim 118a). How many people fall on hard times to no fault of theirs? How many skilled and intelligent people find it difficult to make a living? There are so many ways that people can find themselves in trouble financially! Banks have gone bankrupt. Natural disasters hit – floods, hurricanes, earthquakes. People are mugged and robbed and swindled. When G-d looks out for us and spares us from calamity, and we come to our nice warm home, open the refrigerator to see all sorts of delicious food, and open our closets full of clothing, it is worthy of praise – no less than G-d’s splitting of the sea! The Sages (ad locum) also express how man’s bodily needs are as monumental as the splitting of the sea. How many things can go wrong in a person’s body? When a person can properly digest his food and properly expel the waste, can walk and bend, speak and function without impediment, it is worthy of praise – like that of the splitting of the sea!
We should learn not to take for granted the good that G-d does for us. We should add feeling to our daily prayers, recognizing and praising G-d’s kindness to us. One who does so – one who remembers to offer constant song to G-d – our Sages say (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 91a) will be rewarded. “Anyone who offers song [to G-d] in this world, will merit to do so in the world to come”. May we all be those who receive such reward!