Az Yashir: Why Verses From Torah Follow Those From Tehillim
We know that when Chazal present p’sukim from the Torah, N’viim, and K’suvim, it generally follows this order: p’sukim from the Torah are mentioned first. That being the case, why did Chazal place Az Yashir at the end of P’sukei D’Zimrah, which are primarily p’sukim from T’hilim – part of the K’suvim category? Az Yashir should have logically been placed first. This question is asked by the Zohar (Parshas T’rumah 131:2) and quoted by the Aruch HaShulchan (siman 52:1).
The Zohar answers that since Az Yashir is, in fact, deemed on a higher level than the rest of P’sukei D’Zimrah, it is placed last so that it is juxtaposed with the brachos of Shema and of Shema itself.
We present a deeper understanding of the answer of the Zohar, based on the sefer Mizmor L’David.
As mentioned last week, the reason we recite Az Yashir every day is to express our recognition and awareness of Hashem’s absolute control of every aspect of the world, which we merited to see crystal-clearly at K’rias Yam Suf. We mentioned, as well, the Talmud Yerushalmi, which derived from the word “leimor” (ויאמרו לאמר–va’yomru leimor – and they said to say), that the Shirah is to be recited in all generations.
HaRav Cohen then quotes a Meshech Chochmah (Parshas B’Chukosai 26:4), which discusses the topic of open miracles, such as K’rias Yam Suf, versus the hidden daily miracles of teva(nature). Nature is, in reality, Hashem’s hidden absolute control of every aspect of the world through miracles we become accustomed to seeing regularly, to the point that we can easily forget that they are truly miracles from Hashem. We discussed this at length in previous segments, including our recent segments from HaRav Shlomo Goldfinger on Birkas HaMazon. We have also mentioned the Gemara in P’sachim, which points out that the greatest chesed of Hashem is not Creation, not the Makos, not K’rias Yam Suf, but rather is the providing of sustenance to every living creature, which Hashem continues to do miraculously every day.
The open miracles that Hashem performed at K’rias Yam Suf were for our benefit, to gain greater clarity and awareness of Hashem’s total and absolute control and involvement in every aspect of the world. Through the open miracles, we are reminded not to mistakenly forget about Hashem, Who is hidden in “nature.” Our challenge is to find Hashem: to find Him in nature, to find Him in parking spots – to find Him in every aspect of our daily lives.
Most of us likely don’t think much about the sun, 93 million miles away, rising each morning; or tiny seeds that first rot in the ground and then produce massive trees and an abundance of fruits and other foods; or the blood in our bodies, which carries thousands of nutrients to trillions of cells, each one receiving what it needs; or the blood carrying the waste through the same “pipes” to other parts of the body. Are any of these miracles any less miraculous than K’rias Yam Suf? Certainly not. But we need to remind ourselves daily of the clarity that B’nei Yisrael merited at K’rias Yam Suf, in order to internalize and deepen our awareness that Hashem is constantly performing miracles that are no less astounding, and doing so on a daily basis. That is why Hashem wants us to recite the Shirah daily.
At K’rias Yam Suf, Hashem revealed His absolute and total control. He has since receded into hiding through teva, challenging us to find Him within nature. We recite the Shirahcloser to Shema, which indicates its higher status, in order to remind us of what B’nei Yisrael saw at that time, and the relationship they enjoyed at the highest levels of awareness, clarity, and closeness with Hashem. We hope and daven that we will soon regain that crystal-clear awareness and enjoy that same closeness to Hashem with the coming of Mashiach, may he come speedily in our day, b’ezras Hashem.