Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

10 Shevat 5762 - January 23, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
"And Then Did Moshe and Bnei Yisroel Sing . . . "

by L. Jungerman

"He felt inspired in his heart to sing. His heart told him to sing" (Rashi).

We can only grasp the significance of these words if we study the nature of the heart of a Jew. Thus says the Rambam in the laws of divorce: "Whoever is overcome by his yetzer hora to nullify a commandment or commit a sin and is administered lashes until he submits to doing what is incumbent upon him, or to distance himself from what is forbidden to him, is not considered to be acting under coercion since he really wishes to be part of Jewry and wishes to obey all of the commandments and stay away from sin. However, it is his evil inclination that overpowers him. But once he is subjected to lashes to the point that his inclination is weakened, then he says, `I will obey.' At this point, he has already banished the evil desire."

We learn from this marvelous message that the heart of a Jew is bound with unbreakable cords to the Will of his Creator, and anything that he does contrary to that Will is only because he has succumbed to the influence of his evil impulse, and not because this is his intrinsic will. The yetzer befuddles his senses and desensitizes them to what he truly wishes to do in his heart and soul. This is evident in the words of Chazal commenting on the verse in Shir HaShirim, "`I am asleep and my heart is awake' -- `my heart' designates Hashem."

This obfuscation of a person's real will, resulting from his being overcome by his impulses, is really the prime cause of every aberration from the true, straightforward path onto a road leading away from Torah and mitzvos. It is a person's task and mission to remove these obstacles so that he can muster his resources and his mind to execute what is his true, instinctive will, to unite them within himself. This unification and single purpose is the pivotal point of emunah in a person's life on this earth.

What is the condition of a person's spirit when he focuses on the central point of emunah? "When a person merits the realization that his purpose in life is to acknowledge Hashem's existence, he is suddenly suffused with a boundless joy, and his soul is blissful. Then does his imagination complement his intellect to gaze in tandem upon the pleasantness of Hashem. And all the fleshly pleasures dissipate and disappear and his refined soul is bathed in holiness. It separates from his polluted body to roam freely among the heavenly spheres. When a person ascends to these spiritual values, he discovers before him a new world, for a person in this world can transcend momentarily to the level of an angel and bask in heavenly, holy bliss. And then, all the pleasures on earth pale and fade to nothingness compared to the spiritual sublimeness of a person's adherence to his Creator" (Chazon Ish: Emunah Uvitochon p. 11).

One who examines the Song at the Sea, even with a limited view, will see in it an eternal vista-view. How did Israel merit this sublime level of spirituality? "In what merit was Jewry privileged to say shiroh at the sea? In the merit of the faith they exhibited. We see earlier written, `And Israel saw the great hand and they believed in Hashem and in Moshe His servant'" (Tanchuma Beshalach, 11). They reached a prime point in their emunoh, a juncture at which the intellect united with the inner will and instinctively, they felt the inner urge, need and desire to sing. When a person finds himself at such a state of mind- heart to hear and feel what his inner heart is saying to him, he is essentially separated from his polluted body and a new world is revealed before him. He gazes upon this new world and beholds eternity, and is moved, inspired to burst forth in a song of eternity, a praise to the Eternal Creator.

This is true song, not what we surmise to be a gift of expression, a poetic talent like the other artistic modes of expression -- like that stringing together of words produced by some hapless drunkard weaving crazily through the streets. And this `work of art' has been hailed and established as the national anthem!

True song is latent within the soul of man and it sings on, uninterruptedly. For the expression of the heart is the true, inner will that reverberates and pulses within. At select times, a person can hear this song, this message of the heart, at those times when he merits tuning in to the essential point of truth. And when a person reaches this state of his faith not budging from him, when he is capable of always following in its light, then he will be capable of hearing the song which his heart is perennially singing.

The Shechina revealed Itself at the exodus from Egypt, and the Splitting of the Sea removed from Israel the dominance of the yetzer hora. Then their intellects were able to unite with the true inner desire of the heart. And they believed. And from within them, spontaneously, rose up the song which the heart demands that we sing, constantly and uninterruptedly.

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