Az Yashir: The G-d of My Father, and I Will Exalt Him
א-להי אבי וארממנהו
…the G-d of my father, and I will exalt Him.
It is one generation’s privilege and responsibility to absorb and integrate the emunah that it receives from the previous generation, build upon that transmission, elevate it even higher, and then transmit that elevated connection to Hashem to the next generation.
In the words of HaRav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch: “These words (Elokei avi...) outline the mission of every subsequent generation in Israel: to further, elevate, and exalt man’s knowledge of G-d and homage to Him, to an ever ascending height.”
Why is “Keili–my G-d” written first, followed by “Elokei avi–the G-d of my father” when the order of transmission is clearly the reverse? Only after I absorb and integrate the transmission from my father, can I then work on making Hashem “Keili–my G-d.” Why is the order seemingly backwards? Another question pointed out by HaRav Avigdor Miller is: Why is the Name of Hashem that represents judgment used here (“Elokei avi”)?
HaRav Avigdor Miller explains that the transmission we receive at younger ages from our parents is received in a state of awe. A child is in awe of his parents. However, when we build upon that foundation ourselves, and deepen our recognition of Hashem’s lovingkindness and wonders of creation, we then develop a deeper relationship with Hashem out of love, which is a higher level than one of awe. Only after we elevate our relationship beyond the transmission from our parents can we say, “This is my G-d.” The more we observe, contemplate, feel, savor, and verbalize our appreciation for Hashem’s countless kindnesses to us in our daily lives since birth, the greater and deeper will our awareness, knowledge, and love of Hashem be. Constant nurturing and growing of our awareness and love of Hashem are amongst the highest purposes of life.
Our transmission of awareness and love of Hashem will only be as strong as our own personal awareness and love. Lectures and even Shabbos table divrei Torah and stories will not come remotely close to transmitting awareness of and love for Hashem with as much power and effectiveness as our modeling that awareness and love. We must model it (if we have acquired it ourselves) openly and freely, especially in our times. When we get that great parking spot, we need to say out loud, “Thank You, Hashem!” We must allow the children to hear and see our connection to Hashem and the love for Hashem that is in our heart.
Many speak about a “gratitude journal.” Keeping a small pocket notebook to capture Hashem’s daily kindnesses will help us deepen our own appreciation and gratitude. Deepening our own appreciation, gratitude, and love is the best method to transmit to future generations.
The above thoughts are based on a combination of teachings of HaRav Avigdor Miller (Tefilas Avigdor) and HaRav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch.