Thursday, January 28, 2021

singing shira before a miracle occurs

What if a person is 100% sure that Hashem will do a miracle and save him from danger -- can/he say thanks to Hashem even before the miracle has occurred?  

The Emek Bracha quotes from R' Chaim that the answer is found directly in the pesukim, "V'ani b'chasdicha batachti yageil libi b'yeshuasecha," I have complete faith that Hashem will bring me salvation, "Ashira la'Hashem ki gamal alay," and I will sing praise to Hashem when he rescues me.  Even though I have complete faith that the miracle will occur, it is only after the fact, "ki gamal alay," that I sing shira, not beforehand.

The Mechilta on our parsha reads the pasuk, "Hashem yilachem lachem v'atem tacharishun?" as a question, not a statement.  You expect Hashem to do a miracle for you while you sit on the sidelines and do nothing?  Bnei Yisrael asked Moshe what they should do, and he answered that they should sing praises to Hashem.  

I can't find a Mechilta online, but here it is in Yalkut Shimoni:

 רַבִּי אוֹמֵר, ה׳ יִלָּחֵם לָכֶם הַמָּקוֹם יַעֲשֶׂה לָכֶם נִסִּים וּגְבוּרוֹת וְאַתֶּם תִּהְיוּ עוֹמְדִין וְשׁוֹתְקִין. אָמְרוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל לְמֹשֶׁה, מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ, מָה עָלֵינוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת. אָמַר לָהֶם, אַתֶּם תִּהְיוּ מְפָאֲרִין מְרוֹמְמִין וּמְשַׁבְּחִין וְכוּ׳. בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה פָּתְחוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל פִּיהֶם וְאָמְרוּ שִׁירָה, (להלן ט״ו:א׳) ״אָשִׁירָה לַה׳ כִּי גָאֹה גָּאָה״.

The Mechilta's reading that shira occurred before the miracle runs counter to simple pshat in the pesukim, but putting that aside, the Mechilta seems to undermine R' Chaim's argument.  According to the Mechilta, Klal Yisrael sang shira an anticipation of the splitting of Yam Suf; they didn't wait until after the fact, until the "ki gamal alay."

The Brisker Rav tries to defend R' Chaim by distinguishing between having emunah that a miracle will occur and being told by a navi like Moshe Rabeinu that a miracle will occur.  I think you need to explain why that distinction makes a difference, and secondly, where does it say that Moshe told Klal Yisrael that there would be a miracle like the splitting of the sea? 


  1. "having emunah that a miracle will occur" vs "being told by a navi"*

    in this case, neither. it seems the Mechilta means the following--

    u'r'u es-yeshuas, 14:13, is a commanding invitation for the >shifchah< et al to see >prophetically<, which she/they/Moshe do, from 14:15 to 14:30.

    at 15:1, based on that shared vision, Moshe asks,"'Hashem yilachem lachem v'atem tacharishun?'",

    so he and they sing, 15:2 to 15:19.

    THEN everything foreseen actually occurs.

    then, as the physical tumult settles, Miryam leads music and dance and song**, 15:20...

    *a navi can say falsely (Devarim 18:20 & 22, verses using not 'ish/man' but, four times, 'hanavi'). that, or misplaced or presumptuous "emunah", can result in a shira levatala

    **leads an encore, ululating performance of Gaw'o Gaw'aw...

    1. the Brisker Rav could parry, and say that >14:31< is no longer visionary [but rather the people's response to the vision], such that on this unique occasion, the people listened to Moshe (but not "a navi like" him), to sing...

  2. Mekhilta on-line can be found here:'Rabbi_Yishmael?lang=bi

    The passage you are referring to states:

    ה' ילחם לכם, לא לשעה זו בלבד ילחם לכם אלא לעולם ילחם כנגדן של אויביכם. ר' מאיר אומר ה' ילחם לכם אם כשתהיו עומדים ושותקין ה' ילחם לכם ק"ו כשתהיו נותנין לו שבח. רבי אומר ה' ילחם לכם המקום יעשה לכם נסים וגבורות ואתם תהיו עומדין ושותקין אמרו ישראל למשה רבינו משה מה עלינו לעשות אמר להם אתם תהיו מפארים ומרוממים ונותנין שיר ושבח וגדולה ותפארת למי שהמלחמות שלו כענין שנאמר רוממות אל בגרונם (תהלים קמט) ואומר רומה על השמים אלהים על כל הארץ כבודך (שם נז) ואומר ה' אלהי אתה ארוממך אודה שמך כי עשית פלא עצות מרחוק אמונה אומן (ישעיה כה) באותה שעה פתחו ישראל פיהם ואמרו שירה אשירה לה' כי גאה גאה

    WADR to the Brisker Rov, I think there is a more straightforward difference between this Mechilta and R. Chaim. R. Chaim is talking about giving hoda’ah to Hashem for a miracle. For that you need to have experienced the miracle.

    The Mechilta is talking about praising Hashem, and specifically his greatness and exaltedness at the time of milchama. Klal yisrael’s main strength of war is recognizing that Hashem is the one in control of all war and is above all other powers. This is what the first proof (or parallel) the Mechilta cites from Tehillim, רֽוֹמְמ֣וֹת אֵ֖ל בִּגְרוֹנָ֑ם, which, of course, ends וְחֶ֖רֶב פִּֽיפִיּ֣וֹת בְּיָדָֽם.

    Both Rashi and the Metzudas Dovid on that possuk explain that the רֽוֹמְמ֣וֹת אֵ֖ל become the . חֶ֖רֶב פִּֽיפִיּ֣וֹת בְּיָדָֽם
    Meaning, our main weapon is the praising of Hashem, which turns into our sword. That is what, IMVHO, the Mechilta is referring to.