Sefat Emet: Beshalach 5631 First Ma’amar
God’s providence on every aspect of Creation became known and revealed to all when He split the Red Sea to save us and destroy the Egyptians. We know this from the following Midrash. The Midrash states on the pasuk, “נכון כסאך מאז מעולם אתה/Your throne is established from then; You are eternal,” that even though You are eternal, Your throne became established only at the time of אז/Then (an allusion to Shiras HaYam/The Song of the Sea which begins with the word אז/Then.) The Midrash explains that God’s throne becoming established means that His providence became known in the world.
When the children of Israel realized that everything, including their very actions and the actions of every creature, is enabled because of the Godliness within, they sang. So, the song that the children of Israel sang was not so much a thank you to God for having saved them. Rather it was a spontaneous outburst of praise upon the realization that God is in everything. The Midrash, in fact, states this explicitly, “As soon as they came to the sea and saw God’s strength, how He punishes the wicked and immersed the Egyptians in the sea, ‘’ויאמינו בה/They believed in God.’ In the merit of this belief, Ru’ach HaKodesh/the holy spirit rested upon them and they sang.” Clearly, the key to their singing was their belief in God’s providence.
For this reason the introduction to Shiras HaYam is in the future tense, “אז ישיר/Then they will sing,” rather than the past tense, “אז שר/Then they sang.” The song is not thanks for a one time event. Rather it is an ongoing praise of God’s direct providence in the world. This is why the first pasuk of Shiras HaYam refers to השירה הזאת/this song, an allusion to a specific already known praise that rises from each part of the Creation.
When we praise God, indicating our belief that God is the force that gives everything its existence, we influence all His creatures to sing. How does a creation sing? To understand this we need to define song. Song is the physical expression of a spiritual essence within. Each creation is unique, has a unique task, a unique spiritual essence and therefore sings its own unique song to the Creator. This is the meaning of Perek Shira/The Chapter of Song which comprises the songs that each creature sings to glorify God. When we are aware of God in the Creation, when we sing God’s praises, the Creation can be said to be singing, as well. We know this from the pasuk “כל פעל ה’ למענהו …/God created everything for His praise.
Chazal inform us that King Chizkiyahu did not sing (praise to God.) This is why he did not become the Mashiach. The Chiddushei HaRim explains that Chizkiyahu did not sing because God’s Providence was so clear to him that he was not moved by miracles. Chizkiyahu saw clearly the miracle of God’s life force in nature. To Chizkiyahu there was absolutely no difference between natural and supernatural phenomena. As we’ve said, singing to God is an outburst of praise stemming from the realization that God’s Providence is behind all. To Chizkiyahu this was so obvious that he was not moved to sing praises to God about it.
For us, though, singing God’s praise is a result of that special “aha!” that happens when we realize that God is the source Who gives life to every thing, creature and action in this world enabling us and the entire creation to come close to Him.