Az Yashir: Until This People You Have Acquired Passes Through
עד יעבר עמך ה', עד יעבר עם זו קנית
…until Your people passes through, Hashem, until this people You have acquired passes through.
The Shirah continues by describing the fear that fell upon the neighboring nations. HaRav Avigdor Miller zt”l writes (in Praise, My Soul) that there were two purposes to placing fear upon the nations:
I. To enable B’nei Yisrael to cross the Yarden and to enter Canaan without any hindrance. When they besieged Yericho, none of the nations came to the aid of the king of Yericho.
II. To demonstrate to B’nei Yisrael that we are “amcha” – we are Hashem’s people.
The same language of “am zu,” which appears in our pasuk here in the Shirah, is used by the prophet Yeshaya (43:21): “עַם-זוּ יָצַרְתִּי לִי, תְּהִלָּתִי יְסַפֵּרוּ–Am zu yatzarti li, t’hilasi y’sapeiru (The people that I formed for Myself, that they might declare My praise).” Our purpose in life as a nation is to praise and cause others to praise Hashem. HaRav Don Segal, in a piece that appears in sefer Mizmor L’Sodah, explains that this does not mean that we tell it over to others. We don’t stand in the subway and loudly proclaim praise of Hashem. Rather, we praise Hashem every time we add to our recognition that Hashem created the world from nothingness. Every time we contemplate His awesome creations in the sky, the sea, the land, and perhaps most astounding of all, our human bodies and brain, we are praising Hashem. We praise Hashem when we sit alone and thank Hashem for His love and chesed, which He is constantly bestowing upon us, moment after moment, hour after hour, and day after day. We could spend hours every day thanking Hashem for each “normally” working body part, for each brain function, for each person in our lives, for the tremendous opportunity and privilege of being His firstborn child – “בני בכורי ישראל–b’ni b’chori Yisrael (Yisrael is My son, My firstborn)” (Sh’mos 4:22) – to give just a sample. We don’t have hours, but shouldn’t we at least carve out a few moments to thank and praise Hashem, which is why our nation was created?
Hashem acquired us as a nation at this time of Y’tzias Mitzrayim. The Ramban, at the end of Parshas Bo, explains the reason for so many mitzvos (in excess of 50!) being zeicher liY’tzias Mitzrayim – to remind us again and again. He explains that Hashem does not perform these open miracles in every generation, and therefore we must remind ourselves that the hidden miracles of His direct and intimate involvement in our daily lives are also miracles and not “nature.” The Ramban lists three lessons we must remind ourselves of: Hashem created the world anew from nothingness, He is directly involved in every detail of our lives and the world, and He is All-Capable. Nothing is beyond Hashem. When we contemplate these three, amongst other such foundational mitzvos, such as loving Hashem, we are indeed praising Him and fulfilling our purpose of creation.