When the Jews were being pursued by the Mitzriyim and they were finally pinned between the Yam Suf and their pursuers, they cried out to Hashem powerfully. Hashem’s response to Moshe was: “Why are they crying out to Me? Tell them to advance into the Yam Suf.” This is puzzling: What else could Hashem expect them to do other than to cry out to Him? The Or HaChaim HaKadosh explains that, in this case, even tefilah could not save them. Now, only bitachon would merit their salvation. “Go into the water and show that you trust Me.” Rabbeinu Yonah (B’rachos 4b) similarly explains that they were saved because of their bitachon.
There are many opportunities in our daily tefilos to strengthen our emunah and bitachon. One of the most powerful of these comes at the end of all three tefilos. Rav Hai Gaon wrote: “There is no other praise for Hashem that can compare to it.” We refer, of course, to Aleinu, authored by Yehoshua bin Nun.
Aleinu was chosen to be the lead tefilah of Malchiyus, the core section of the core tefilah for Rosh HaShanah. The aron ha’kodesh is opened during Aleinu, which the Levush says is like being in the Kodesh HaKodashim in the Beis HaMikdash. Let us look at the following statement from the Mishnah B’rurah (siman 132:2 s”k 8, quoting Matei Moshe):
One should say Aleinu with dread and fear. This is because the entire host of Heaven hear it and the Holy One, Blessed be He, stands with His celestial entourage and they all respond by saying, “Happy is the people for whom it is thus, happy is the people, etc.”
This passage of the Mishnah B’rurah is speaking about every day’s reciting of Aleinu, as well. When we say Aleinu down here, we have some incredible company from Above!
“Hashem Hu HaElokim” are the very last words we say at the crescendo and conclusion of Yom Kippur N’ilah. Three times a day during Aleinu, we have the privilege and opportunity to tap into the thoughts, feelings, and conviction that we felt just a few months ago when we said these same words – “Hashem Hu HaElokim” – seven times with all of our spiritual and physical might.
The Name Hashem represents the trait of compassion. Elokim represents judgment. The same G-d Who has provided us with all the sweetness and compassion each of us has received during the course of our lives is the same G-d Who delivers that which we experience as bitter, all of which is for our eternal benefit.
The Name Hashem represents Hashem’s conduct in the world via supernatural miracles, while Elokim represents Hashem’s direct and constant involvement through “nature” and hashgachah pratis, Divine Providence. The same G-d Who split the Yam Suf is the G-d Who gave us the ideal parking spot that someone just pulled out of, as we were approaching. Our response should be something like: “Thank You, Hashem! Thank You for the spot, and even more so for showing me the love that You feel for me. I love You, Hashem, as well!” There are so many benefits to this approach that it deserves, and will receive, b’ezras Hashem, a separate Pesach article. Aside from the many other benefits, this type of awareness and response fulfills a number of mitzvos min haTorah that are amongst the most important foundational mitzvos, such as Ahavas Hashem, Emunah, and contemplating Hashem’s lovingkindness, to name just a few.
With the knowledge that Hashem Hu HaElokim affects the way we live our lives and how we make our decisions, that is when we truly “know.” In order to get to that point, we must constantly contemplate and learn about emunah and bitachon. The key question is: Do we actually live our lives with “Hashem Hu HaElokim”? [HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Sifsei Chaim – Moadim 1, in the name of HaRav Yisrael Salanter]
In these trying times, let us take advantage of the great opportunity given to us to strengthen our emunah and bitachon as we recite Aleinu three times a day, keeping in mind our audience from Above. Let us work on saying at least these few words with mind and emotion, with perhaps a touch of the feeling we had on Yom Kippur, as we further our progress in truly “knowing” that Hashem Hu HaElokim.
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You can direct any questions or comments to Eliezer Szrolovits at 917-551-0150.