Az Yashir: Vayosha Hashem… Vayar Yisrael
ויושע ה' ביום ההוא את ישראל מיד מצרים... וירא ישראל... Hashem saved – on that day – Yisrael from the hand of Egypt… and Yisrael saw…
On THAT day, the Jews were saved from Mitzrayim. When they left Mitzrayim, it was not yet a complete salvation, as they soon came to understand when the Mitzriyim began chasing them. However, Hashem performed yet another miracle, and the Jews actually saw the Mitzriyim dead on the shore. This was an additional chesed on top of all the other chasadim, because the Jews were now finally, once and for all, rid of the Mitzriyim. NOW, they were truly free. Had Hashem not performed this miracle – to gather the Mitzriyim from the entire Yam Suf and spit them all out right where the Jews came out, the Jews would have continued to fear that perhaps the Mitzriyim survived and exited elsewhere and would continue to pursue them. It was specifically this miracle that allowed them now to feel totally free and serene. That great joy then resulted in their singing the Shirah.
Why are the words “וירא ישראל–Vayar Yisrael” repeated twice in this paragraph in back-to-back p’sukim? The Torah could have simply written: וירא ישראל את מצרים מת על שפת הים, ואת היד הגדולה אשר עשה ה' במצרים – and Yisrael saw the Mitzriyim dead on the seashore, and the great hand that Hashem inflicted upon Mitzrayim…
The Torah repeats “Vayar Yisrael” here to teach us that just physically seeing is not knowing. We have written about how we can see an event and still disconnect from it. We will not absorb and integrate the lessons of an event unless we contemplate it and inculcate it into our being. This last miracle of K’rias Yam Sufenabled B’nei Yisrael to move from seeing and even experiencing to the stage of great clarity. The repetition of the phrase “Vayar Yisrael” demonstrates that B’nei Yisrael took that feeling of serenity and elevated it into a deeper and more tangible awareness of Hashem and of the totality of his Hashgachah Pratis, Divine Providence.
The reference to “the great hand,” as opposed to previous references of a “finger” of Hashem, teaches us that there was even greater awareness of the extent of hashgachah. If, generally, hashgachah pratis is symbolized by a finger, here they saw a “full hand,” meaning, they now knew with absolute clarity that Hashem was guiding absolutely everything with a plan and a purpose, and that all was guided especially for their benefit. That is the significance of the second “Vayar Yisrael.” B’nei Yisraelreceived a great gift on the shores of the Yam Suf: They received the gift of absolute clarity, which ultimately led them to sing theShirah.
(based on Rabbi Avigdor Miller’s Tefilas Avigdor)