(Haftara: Shoftim 4:4-5:31)
1. [14:12-14] The Israelites are brought to a situation of great fear and stress before God saves them. God could have just done a miracle and saved them. What is gained by bringing the Israelites to such a crisis?
2. [14:28] The midrash tells us that when the Egyptian soldiers were drowning, the angels were singing joyfully. God told them to stop because “my creations are drowning”. Why did God allow the Israelites to sing joyfully?
3. [15:1] “Then Moshe and the Israelites sang this song to God…” It seems that they sang spontaneously. If we hadn’t been exposed to music from early childhood, would music come naturally to us? Why is it that music has the power to express our emotions better than words?
4. [15:2] “…this is my God and I will make him beautiful (ve’anvayhu)…” “Neve” in Hebrew also means home. Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch understands the word “ve’anvayhu” as the idea that my body should be a suitable place for God–God should have a home in one’s life and one’s body. How can one make one’s body and one’s life a suitable place for God?
5. [Tu B’Shvat] When we make blessings before eating fruit and other foods, we make the blessing which is specific to that family of food. There is one blessing, however, that could apply to every food—”Blessed are You..that everything exists through His word. If one blessing is acceptable for every food, why do we try so hard to make the specific blessing?
This is the mystery of the oneness of God. Wherever I take hold of a little bit of it, I take hold of all of it. And since the Torah and all the commandments are radiations of His Being, so whoever does a commandment with sincerity and love, and takes hold of a tiny bit of the oneness of God, has really taken hold of all of it.
–The Ba’al Shem Tov, 1698-1760, Ukraine.
This study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer