The Torah relates to us the wonderful and miraculous events that occured in
our forefathers' exit from Egypt; the ten plagues, the drowning of the
Egyptian army in the Sea of Reeds, and others. When the Children of Israel
saw the Egyptian army laying dead on the shores of the sea, they sang
"shirah". The entire song they sang is written for all generations in the
Torah (Exodus 15:1). The "shirah", or song begins with the word "az", or
"then" ("Then Moshe and the Children of Israel sang"). Interestingly enough
in Exodus (5:23) when Moshe makes his first appearance before Pharaoh and
receives his first refusal he returns to G-d with a complaint. "Why did you
send me?" "From when ("az") I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has
only made it worse for this nation" In Moshe's complaint he uses the same
word "az". The midrash states that Moshe said "I sinned to G-d (by
complaining) with the word "az", so I'll begin the "shirah" with the same
word." The question is how does that help?
Rabbi Chaim Soleveitchik in his work "Bais HaLevi" writes an
interesting and revealing explanation. Usually when a person thanks G-d for
getting him out of a tough situation, he thanks Him for the rescue, and that
he now finds himself in a better situation. In this particular person's
thank you there will be no thanks for the suffering he found himself in
before, needless to say, but just for the rescue. However the nature of the
song of thanks which the Children of Israel sang was somewhat different.
They sang for the suffering as well. Why? The reason is a follows. When G-d
rescued the Children of Israel from the slavery in Egypt His existence and
greatness was publicized throughout the civilized world. The suffering in
Egypt was purposeful. The Children of Israel merited to be the vehicle
through which G-d's name was exalted and sanctified. This was their main
happiness, at that time. See for yourself in the verses of the song.
Earlier, when Moshe complained with the word "az", He was
complaining about the severity of the enslavement. Now when he sings praise
to G-d, he uses the same word to give thanks even for the very same
Text Copyright © 1997 Rabbi Dovid Green and
Project Genesis, Inc.