Az Yashir: Your Right Hand, Hashem
ימינך ה' נאדרי בכח, ימינך ה' תרעץ אויב
Your right hand, Hashem, is adorned with strength; Your right hand, Hashem, smashes the enemy.
The p’sukim in between our last segment and this segment continue the theme of Hashem alone waging war. We praise Hashem for waging war against the most elite soldiers of the greatest superpower of the time, who were totally helpless against Hashem and who were hurled like arrows into the sea, drowning together with their chariots and armies.
The pasuk, which we now address, again utilizes the Name of Hashem that represents His compassion. Yet, the pasuk speaks about Hashem’s strength in smashing the enemy. HaRav Shimon Schwab (Rav Schwab on Prayer, ArtScroll Mesorah Publications) points out that this Name of Hashem, representing compassion, appears in the Shirah ten times. He suggests that perhaps this corresponds to the ten makos that Hashem smote the Egyptians with both in Mitzrayim and at the Yam Suf. Thus, we once again see that the act of destruction can at the same time be an act of compassion. For us, these acts were miraculous acts of compassion, while for the Egyptians they were acts of destruction.
Perhaps this pasuk can help us to continue to strengthen a similar most important idea in our own lives. At various points in our lives, we may view certain events as “destructive”: “I only wanted to do a chesed to drive someone to the doctor; why did Hashem give me a flat tire and not allow me to perform this mitzvah?” From lower-level frustrations to higher-level pain, we often don’t understand these events that seem “destructive” and counterproductive: “I have such a good heart and only want to give more tz’dakah; why do I need to struggle so much to earn a livelihood, with no ability to fulfill my heart’s desire, which is only to give tz’dakah?”
We have previously written about the statement said in the name of Rabbi Akiva that we are told to always accustom ourselves to say (thereby internalizing deeper and deeper). The Ramchal (Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, 1707-1746), in his sefer M’silas Y’sharim (perek 19), tells us that even acts that actually seem cruel to us are being performed out of Hashem’s compassion and love, and should actually increase our love for Him. Some of the time, we actually are able to see very clearly, later in life, how it was for our benefit. Many times we do not. That is where emunah and bitachon need to kick in.
The following is an excerpt from the sefer by Rabbi David Steinhaus – The Fragrance of Life – A Program for Endless Happiness – which I very highly recommend:
It is a mitzvah written specifically in the Torah to accept unreservedly that the problems of life are for our ultimate good. The Torah writes, “You shall love Hashem your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your m’od” (D’varim 6:5). The Mishnah in B’rachos (9:5) explains the phrase “b’chol m’odecha” as, “Whichever way Hashem acts towards you [whether He brings on you good or punishment], thank Him wholeheartedly.”
This means that the ideal the Torah asks us to strive to achieve is not only the acceptance of our problems, but to actually thank Hashem for them. This is an extremely lofty goal that is not easy to achieve, but the Torah directs us to endeavor to come as close as we are able. The Gemara (B’rachos 60b) discloses that at present we are not capable of achieving this elevated level in its totality (and we are therefore not permitted to say the blessing HaTov V’HaMeitiv on bad tidings). Only in Olam HaBa will we be able to attain this recognition fully. Nevertheless, whenever a problem occurs, we have a mitzvah to endeavor to come as close as we can to thanking Hashem even for our difficulties. This is the most basic and fundamental antidote to the difficulties of life.
There are many stories of communities and individuals who have received salvation through their acceptance of their plight with love, and thanking Hashem for everything He does for them – even for that most serious trouble. There are stories of droughts that were stopped when all were gathered together to be inspired to accept with love and thanks. Perhaps this is part of the explanation of how David HaMelech, instituting the recital of 100 brachos a day, was able to stop the plague. When we focus on Hashem’s constant involvement in every detail of our lives – and we thank Him for all the blessings we enjoy throughout the day and throughout our lives – that has the ability to even stop plagues.
May we merit to recite at least a few brachos a day in such a manner as to evoke and keep aflame these feelings of gratitude to and love for Hashem.