Az Yashir: You Guided in Your Kindness This People That You Redeemed
נחית בחסדך עם זו גאלת, נהלת בעזך אל נוה קדשך
You guided in Your kindness this people that You redeemed, You led with Your might to Your holy abode.
If we look at the words of this pasuk, a question jumps out at us. The words “נחית–nachisa” and “נהלת–neihalta” appear to have the same meaning, “You led.” Why does the pasuk use two different words, and why is each placed specifically where it is: “nachisa” in the beginning phrase and “neihalta” in the latter phrase?
HaRav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch, in The Hirsch Chumash, explains that the word “nachisa,” used in the first phrase, means “to lead to the goal.” This indicates that Hashem redeemed us to lead us to the goal of “n’vei kodshecha” – His sanctified abode, the Mishkan. HaRav Avigdor Miller, in Tefilas Avigdor, explains the pasuk in the same way. Hashem redeemed B’nei Yisrael in order to lead them to the end goal, which was to come close to the Sh’chinah, Hashem’s presence, which resided in the Mishkan. This means that, although Hashem’s presence is everywhere, we were able to feel Hashem’s presence most tangibly in the Mishkan and, later, in the Beis HaMikdash. The Mishkan and the Beis HaMikdash were also the places where we felt Hashem’s love to the greatest extent. They were the ultimate place of simchah, because our relationship to Hashem was the closest it could be in this world.
As Reb Shaya Ostrov writes in his sefer, The Menuchah Principle:
The Beauty of the Mishkan
What is there about the Mishkan that causes it to be a suitable place for Hashem to reside? The Mishkan is where Hashem’s love for us and all mankind is most evident. It is a place of peace and harmony. In the Mishkan and in the Beis HaMikdash, no metal tools were used to fashion the vessels contained within. In the Mishkan, the two golden k’ruvim, which signified Heavenly beings, were placed on top of the Aron, the Ark, which contained the Ten Commandments. The position of the k’ruvim signified Hashem’s love for us: They faced each other lovingly when am Yisrael was united as one; but when there was conflict among Hashem’s People, they turned away from each other. The floor of the Mishkan was called Ritzpas Ahavah – the Floor of Love. The inner chambers of the Mishkan were filled with the beauty of song, the illumination of the Menorah, the aesthetic harmony of colors, textures, and materials, and the sublime feelings and thoughts that permeated it.
The Mishkan is therefore the paradigm of beauty, k’dushah, love, pleasantness, and clarity in human life.
HaRav Hirsch explains, as well, that the word naheil “is always used in the sense of guiding a weak person, with due consideration for his weakness.”
HaRav Hirsch explains that when B’nei Yisrael first left Mitzrayim, they were still lacking bitachon – trust and reliance in Hashem. This is why Hashem took them on a circuitous route, lest they fear and turn back. In Hashem’s overpowering might, He could have led them straight to the Mishkan, but they were not yet ready. So He patiently guided them slowly, out of consideration for their weakness.
Perhaps we can draw a critical lesson for our own lives. We have previously mentioned that HaRav Chaim Volozhin, in his sefer Nefesh HaChaim, writes that the entire purpose of the Mishkan and all of its vessels was only to allude to us to make ourselves worthy and fit to have the Sh’chinah reside inside of each one of us.
Needless to say, this entails a lifetime of toil. It requires us to exercise patience for our own slow and steady growth. Like climbing a ladder, we must climb the ladder of life one step at a time. If we try to jump up too high in one step, we risk falling off the ladder. Hashem guides us patiently and lovingly (neihalta) due to our weakness, to our end goal (nachisa) – to the goal of n’vei kodshecha, to our own Mishkan that we build inside ourselves for the Sh’chinah to “feel comfortable” to reside in. May we merit to reach the top of our own personal ladders, our own unique full potential, with simchah and with love of Hashem.