Back to Parsha homepage

The Weekly Internet
P A R A S H A - P A G E
by Mordecai Kornfeld
of Har Nof, Jerusalem
Founder of the Dafyomi Advancement Forum

Previous issues



Then, Moshe and the Jewish People will sing (Hebrew: 'Yashir,' sometimes meaning 'sang') this song to Hashem: "I will sing to Hashem for He is mightier than any other; horse and rider He has cast in the sea...

"I *will* sing" -- [Why did the verse use a term that can be interpreted in the future tense?] The verse means to hint that the dead will eventually be resurrected [and at that time, Moshe will once again lead the Jews in this song].
(Shemot 15:1 and Rashi, citing Midrash)

According to the Midrash, it was on the seventh day of Pesach (21 Nisan) that the Reed Sea miraculously split for the Jewish Nation and drowned the Egyptian pursuers. Moshe led the nation in a song of praise to Hashem which, Rashi tells us, will be repeated following the Resurrection of the Dead.

Why will the Song of the Splitting of the Sea be sung as thanks to Hashem for the resurrection? First of all, the subject matter seem inappropriate for that time period -- it thanks Hashem for past miracles, rather than for the new miracles which we will undoubtedly witness during the Final Redemption. Secondly, in Berachot (12b) we are told that after the Final Redemption, our praises for Hashem will center primarily on the events leading up to *that* redemption, and the Exodus from Egypt be mentioned only peripherally.

In order to fully grasp the intention of this Midrash, we must first gain a deeper understanding of the significance of the Egyptian Exodus which culminated with the splitting of the sea.


Our people have endured a long history of exiles and oppression. Is persecution than our lot? No, quite to the contrary! Our lot is to be the Chosen Nation and to dwell in Hashem's Chosen Land, from where we will be a "Beacon unto the Nations." Persecution became a part of our destiny only when we demonstrated that we were not fully prepared for the task. The years of Egyptian exile, for instance, became necessary when our forefather Avraham demonstrated a minor flaw of character (Nedarim 32a; Ramban Bereishit 12:10). Years of humbling, forced labor would turn the hearts of his offspring towards Hashem and ensure that they would not be affected even by this minuscule deficiency.

The Egyptian exile, though, should have sufficed. After enduring the long, harsh years of subservience, the Jews ought to have been freed and led immediately towards the Holy Land, where they would remain forever. However, this would not be the case. The Jews were not able to endure the full brunt of the decreed exile in Egypt and instead were freed "before their time," when they were on the verge of becoming irrevocably entangled with Egyptian morals and values. In order to complete the nation's process of refinement, it became necessary for them to endure other periods of exile in the future (as explained in many post-Midrashic sources).

Perhaps for this reason, when Hashem originally revealed Himself to Moshe and asked him to free the Jews from Egyptian bondage, He told Moshe, "I will be with them (the Jewish People) during this exile, and I will be with them when they endure future exiles" (Rashi Shemot 3:14). Why mention future periods of exile? What Hashem meant was that although the Jews would leave Egypt before the prescribed time, they would have to 'make it up" through future exiles. (Chatam Sofer, Shemot 3:14).

Similarly, the redemption from Egypt could have been the Final Redemption, after which we would experience no more periods of persecution, had it not been necessary to hasten the redemption and bring it before its time. This puts into perspective the exchange between Moshe and Hashem at the burning bush. Moshe asked Hashem, "Why do you choose me to redeem your people? Send, instead, Pinchas/Elijah, who you have chosen to redeem your people at the End of Days!" (Shemot 4:13, according to Targum Yonatan -- see also Rashi ad loc.). Moshe was suggesting that the redemption from Egypt ought to be a full and final one. Hashem answered, that the time had not yet come for a final redemption.

A Final Redemption differs from a transient one not only in its followup (i.e., that no other exile follows it), but also in the very nature of the redemption. When Hashem brings the Final Redemption, He will make His presence known to all in a clear and incontrovertible manner. At present, it is possible for the stubborn to deny His existence; at that time even the most stubborn will have to admit their mistake (Rashi, Devarim 6:4). Although this result was not attained in full when the Jews left Egypt, nevertheless the redemption from Egypt did retain a "shadow" of the Final Redemption. As Rachav of Yericho told the Jewish spies who stayed by her (Yehoshua 2:10,11), at least for a good few years after the Exodus it remained clear to all the nations that Hashem is the Creator and administrator of the world.


The completion of the Exodus occurred at the splitting of the sea (Shemot 14:30). When the waters of the sea split, so did the symbolic "waters above" in the heavens. "A maidservant who crossed the sea saw a more awesome vision than even the prophet Yechezkel." The symbolism of the famed "Chariot of G-d" vision of Yechezkel (Yechezkel 1), referred to by Chazal as "Ma'aseh Merkavah," is summed up by Rav Tzadok ha'Kohen as follows: "Ma'aseh Merkavah refers to the realization that Hashem 'rides upon' [= exerts his control over] *all* the creatures of the world even after the world has been created" (Sefer ha'Zichronot p. 29b). That is, it is the realization that there is no other power but Hashem. It was this vision of Hashem's singularity -- this "peek" at what is in store for the world at the End of Days -- that was revealed to us when the sea split. (Mima'amakim, based on the lectures of Hagaon Rav Moshe Shapiro)

This is what the Jews acknowledged by climaxing their praise with a resounding "Hashem will rule forever and ever!" (Shemot 15:18). They saw clearly that the time will come when Hashem's power over all will be witnessed by the entire world. "The Temple of Hashem, Your Hands have prepared," they announced, envisioning the Third Temple, which Hashem will show us upon the Final Redemption (Rashi Sukah 41a). Similarly, when we recite the Song of the Splitting of the Sea in our daily prayers, we conclude it by adding the prophetic verse "Hashem will be King of all the world; on That Day Hashem will be One and His Name will be One [among His creations]" (Zecharyah 14:9).


Now we may answer our original question. Why it is important for Moshe to lead us in the Song of the Splitting of the Sea when the dead are resurrected?

When the Gemara in Berachot explains that the praise for the Exodus from Egypt will play second fiddle to the praise for the Exodus from the Diaspora, it means that the latter will be more meaningful to us in terms of what we personally benefited from Hashem's salvation. The Song of the Splitting of the Sea, though, is more than a form of expressing our appreciation for His salvation. It is the exclamation of a people watching the End of Days playing itself out in miniature. When the full, true redemption plays itself out and Hashem is revealed to the world in His full glory, Moshe and the generation that crossed the sea will sing "This is my G-d and I shall glorify Him" (Shemot 15:2). "We were the ones to whom He was revealed the first -- we saw the beginning, now we finally can witness the end!"

To receive the fax edition (Israel only), fax me at (02) 652-2633.
To receive the Parsha-page via Email send a request to

Back to Parsha homepage | Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel