Ashirah laShem

I shall sing to Hashem…


The word laShem (to Hashem) seems superfluous. Who else would Moshe Rabbeinu and the B’nei Yisrael be singing to?

Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier relates that, in a book written about the Six-Day War, the author described an incident that had occurred during that war. A Jeep with four Israeli soldiers became separated from their unit and was out in the wide-open desert with no cover, when they heard the boom of three enemy planes that had spotted them. They got out of the Jeep and spread out, hitting the ground, but had no cover at all in the desert. One soldier described how the enemy fighter planes flew close to the ground with one objective: to kill these four soldiers. They were firing at the soldiers with their machine guns. This soldier described how the bullets landed so close to him, and all around him the dust was kicking up from the ground into his face. Three enemy planes made three passes, while shooting their machine guns. Then, on the fourth pass, they wanted to make sure they finished the job, so they dropped napalm gas. Napalm is a gasoline by-product that explodes into a ball of flames upon contact. The Israeli soldier described the searing heat as the napalm bomb exploded all around him. Finally, after that fourth pass, Israeli fighter planes arrived, and the enemy planes escaped. The soldier described how he got up, looked around, and saw that the other three soldiers had stood up, as well – unscathed. Miraculous? Impossible?

The soldier was asked to what he attributed his salvation. His response: “I guess I got lucky.” How sad. A good friend of mine, Lewis Gray, shared the following observation with me: “If you aren’t looking for G-d, you won’t find Him anywhere; but if you are looking for G-d, you will find Him everywhere.”

Often, even we, who fully believe in Hashem and properly observe halachah, when asked about a success or failure, respond about how great the doctor was, how horrible the handyman or the lawyer was, without any thought of Hashem being in the picture.

Even K’rias Yam Suf can be attributed to “nature” – the wind, in this case. There are actually people who try to explain K’rias Yam Suf as an act of “nature” and leave Hashem totally out of the picture. We must constantly be vigilant to remind ourselves in all situations that the “cause and effect” is only how Hashem caused something to occur. He established Teva (Nature) and operates through Teva primarily, but we must never lose sight of the fact that nothing happens unless Hashem wants it to happen. This is very challenging in our times, when every secular media outlet is giving us the opposite message, explaining in detail why this or that happened, and how, if someone had said or had done something differently, the result would have been different.

This is why Moshe Rabbeinu and B’nei Yisrael added the word laShem. We sing only to Hashem as the true cause of all events. We must thank His worthy messengers for their desire to help, their efforts, and their choices; but ultimately, the only One we thank for the results is Hashem.

(based on Tefilas Avigdor)

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