Az Yashir: Hashem is My Might and My Praise
עזי וזמרת י-ה, ויהי לי לישועה
Hashem is my might and my praise, and He was a salvation for me…
The two-letter name of Hashem that appears in this pasuk “usually describes the perception of HaKadosh Baruch Hu during a period of incomplete recognition of Malchus Shamayim” (HaRav Shimon Schwab, Rav Schwab on Prayer). Here, Moshe and the B’nei Yisrael were saying that although the Name of HaKadosh Baruch Hu was not recognized in the world when they were in slavery, nevertheless He was my strength and my song even at that time.
HaRav Schwab understands the next phrase of “ויהי לי לישועה–va’y’hi li liy’shuah” as B’nei Yisrael stating that their faith in HaKadosh Baruch Hu developed into their salvation. It was this tenacious adherence to their trust in and reliance upon HaKadosh Baruch Hu even in time of slavery that eventually led to their salvation.
Rav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch offers a beautiful insight into the second and third p’sukim of the Shir HaMaalos that we sing at the conclusion of our s’udos on Shabbos, Rosh Chodesh, and Yom Tov (T’hilim 126):
אז ימלא שחוק פינו ולשוננו רנה. אז יאמרו בגוים, הגדיל ה' לעשות עם אלה. הגדיל ה' לעשות עמנו, היינו שמחים.
Then our mouth will be filled with laughter and our tongue with glad song. Then they will declare among the nations, “Hashem has done greatly with these.” Hashem has done greatly with us, we were gladdened.
Explained Rav Hirsch: “Then we shall exult, and our rebirth to a new life will be so unexpected and so obviously a miracle that the nations will then say: ‘The Lord has done great things with these.’
“But the nations have not noticed, nor have they had understanding for the great things that the Lord had done for us even long before, all through our exile. They did not know it then, nor do they know it now; the Lord has done great things with us at all times, as proven by the fact that, throughout all our grievous suffering, we have remained glad and serene. This Divine miracle, which only we ourselves had sensed and experienced, and which lasted throughout the centuries of Galus, is quite equal in significance to our eventual wondrous redemption, which will be such that all eyes will be able to see its miraculous nature; we have retained vigor of both heart and spirit, and, in the midst of all our outward misery, we enjoyed quiet happiness, an inner contentment, which was brought about solely by G-d’s invisible nearness, of which our foes, of course, had no conception.”
When we recite these few words of Az Yashir daily, we have a tremendous opportunity to inculcate deeper inside of us the bitachon that Hashem is always doing what is in our best interest, with compassion, for our ultimate eternal benefit. Events in our lives are at times stressful and painful. We need to constantly work to increase our level of bitachon, utilizing various techniques including the built-in opportunities presented to us during our tefilos.
Another great opportunity to work on our bitachon and live a less stressful and more serene life is to internalize the truth and warm feeling of the following “bitachon statement”:
“This, too, is from Hashem, with compassion, for my benefit.”
Step One is recognizing that this event came from Hashem, my loving Father and King, Who designed this event especially for me – for my benefit.
Step Two is recognizing that although the event may be painful, it is nonetheless with true compassion for my benefit. If we had the same vision that only Hashem does, we would fully agree that this event comes from Hashem’s compassion and is for the best for me right now, even though in my extremely limited vision and understanding, it may appear right now to be mean and maybe even cruel.
An ideal time to utilize the “bitachon statement” above is when we experience the frustration over the “small stuff” of life. If we truly believe what we are saying and are just reminding ourselves, we will be calmed and we will feel the stress dissipate. We have the potential one day to even grow to the level of thanking Hashem for the temporary setback, since it created a priceless opportunity to perform the great mitzvah of bitachon (which the Vilna Gaon says is “ikar ha’kol” and includes the whole Torah) and come closer to Hashem and to our ultimate salvation.
When events involve other people, we may naturally blame others for whatever went wrong. The bitachon statement, affirming our belief that the event came from Hashem, will result in our being able to approach the other person with a calm and healthy response, if one is needed. If we need to speak to the person about not repeating his or her offense, we will speak calmly and only have the best result for our relationship in mind. We will not be biased and influenced by our anger and frustration. Needless to say, our relationship will be much more likely to be improved and enhanced as a result of our calm and internal serenity, as opposed to the relationship being harmed and set back when we speak out of frustration and anger.
Bitachon requires constant daily effort when times are relatively quiet and uneventful. That is the time to build our bitachon muscles so that at times of pain, we will be able to react, b’ezras Hashem, with the same bitachon and inner contentment that B’nei Yisrael did in Mitzrayim, and that klal Yisrael as a whole has during this long galus. May our bitachon merit us to see the coming of Mashiach speedily in our day.