Az Yashir: Mighty in Holiness, Too Awesome for Praise

מי כמכה באל(י)ם ה', מי כמכה נאדר בקדש, נורא תהלות עושה פלא

Who is like You among the heavenly powers, Hashem! Who is like You, mighty in holiness, too awesome for praise, doing wonders!


In Az Yashir 18, we presented HaRav Shimon Schwab’s explanation that B’nei Yisrael realized that even their suffering in Mitzrayim was something beneficial to them, and they sang praise to Hashem for their suffering as well as their redemption.

HaRav Schwab also points out that this pasuk of “Mi Chamochah” was singled out as a “summary” of the Shirah, and we recite it both during Shacharis and Maariv in the brachah of g’ulah, redemption. We present excerpts from HaRav Schwab:

With this explanation...they came to understand...this concept of acceptance...

This concept meshes well with the reason we cover our eyes when we recite the first pasuk of Shema, according to the Zohar’s explanation. The Zohar explains that in this pasuk we proclaim that Hashem’s Name is One. What does this mean?

To us, a sweet event appears to be “רחמים–rachamim” – Hashem’s compassion – while a bitter event appears to be “דין–din” – judgment. “Good” and “bad” – that is how we see it with our eyes in this world. However, the reality is that all events, including judgment, come from Hashem for our benefit, emanating from His compassion and love. There are no two separate “operating systems.” Hashem’s “Name” – which represents His conduct and guidance of the world – is One. We cover our eyes to block out how we see things externally with our physical eyes, so that we can focus our minds internally to the reality of Hashem Echad: Hashem is One, and all that He does is for our benefit.

This is a concept that requires much constant strengthening. Chazal have provided us with several points in our tefilos to internalize this concept more deeply. As we recite the Shema at the start and close of our day, let us work to inculcate “Hashem Echad” more and more deeply inside of ourselves.