Rav Moshe Twersky Hy”d On the Parsha

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By Rabbi Yehoshua Berman
 אשירה לה’ כי גאה גאה    טו:א           The pasuk in Tehillim (13:6) states, ”V’ani b’chasdecha vatachti yagel libi bishuasecha ashirah la’Hashem ki gamal alai, and I have trusted in Your kindness, my heart will rejoice in Your salvation, I will sing to Hashem because He has bestowed [salvation] upon me.” Dovid ha’melech confirms his faith in Hashem’s salvation. The grammatical structure of this pasuk is somewhat perplexing. The first half of the pasuk is obviously an expression of the deep sense of trust that Dovid ha’melech had in Hashem even before Hashem saved him from his troubles, because the entire concept of trust in a salvation only makes sense before the salvation comes to fruition. If the salvation has already occurred, though, one doesn’t need faith or trust! However, the pasuk’s continuation – that Dovid rejoiced in his heart about Hashem’s salvation – is formulated in the present tense. Finally, the pasuk concludes with the words “ki gamal alai, for He has bestowed upon me”. This last segment of the pasuk is presented in the past tense, seemingly referring to a situation wherein the salvation has already taken place. So when  is it that Dovid ha’melech is rejoicing in his heart? Is it before or after the salvation?! If it is prior to the salvation taking place, then it is not consistent with the end of the pasuk that Dovid will sing praise after he gets saved; and if it is talking about after Dovid got saved, then why is the former segment written in the present tense?

The Emek Bracha (pg.124) cites an explanation from the Brisker Rav in the name of the latter’s father, Reb Chaim Brisker: due to Dovid ha’melech’s lofty level of trust in Hashem, he already felt jubilant in his heart even while still in need of the salvation. However, to actually express that jubilation in the form of singing praise to Hashem, for that bitachon (trust) is not enough. Prior to the actual salvation, it is not yet in place to actually express shirah (song of praise) to Hashem. The salvation has to actually come; only then is it appropriate to sing praise to Hashem. Accordingly, the pasuk is referring to both stages of the salvation process, before and after. The first half of the pasuk is saying that Dovid’s faith was so great that he was already rejoicing in his heart in anticipation of the salvation. However, the song of praise and gratitude was only sung after Dovid actually experienced the salvation.

Interestingly enough, from my grandfather (Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik), I heard a different explanation of this pasuk, also in the name of his grandfather, Reb Chaim Brisker! The way I heard it, is that Reb Chaim said even shirah can be appropriate despite the salvation having not yet occurred. Accordingly, the entire pasuk is talking about what Dovid felt and did before the salvation. Dovid rejoiced in his heart and also sang out to Hashem lyrics of praise. So then why does the end of the pasuk speak in the past tense, as though the salvation has already occurred? Because Dovid sang to Hashem as if he had already been saved. For Dovid ha’melech, his bitachon was so strong, that it was as if the salvation had already occurred, such that he could even express his rejoicing in concrete song and praise!

This amazing chiddush (novel thought or idea) – namely, that the bitachon has the power to bring a person to a level wherein he can sing praises to Hashem as if the salvation has already happened – has many sources and proofs.
For example, there is the Rashi in Tehillim (18:4) on the pasuk that says, “mehulal ekrah Hashem umin oyvai ivasheiah, with praises I call unto Hashem, and I will be saved from my enemies.” Rashi explains that Dovid ha’melech said Hallel before he was delivered from his enemies because he had absolute trust that Hashem would extricate him from his predicament. Rashi clearly states that, as a result of bitachon, it is appropriate to sing praise even before the salvation actually occurs.

The primary substantiation for the concept of being able to say shirah even before the miracle takes place is from our parsha. The Targum Yonason, and, even more clearly, the Mechilta (14:13-14) records an interchange between the Jewish People and Moshe Rabbeinu. Standing at the edge of the sea, the People asked Moshe Rabbeinu what they should do? To which Moshe responded, “you should praise Hashem and sing shirah to Him as it says, ashirah la’Hashem ki gaoh gaah.” The implication, clearly, is that Klal Yisrael sang at least part of the shirah of Az Yashir before the sea split.

Even if we accept the more traditional understanding of the sequence of events that occurred at the Splitting of the Sea, namely that Klal Yisrael sang shirah only after the sea split and they emerged therefrom, there is still a proof for this concept from a comment of the Shelah ha’kadosh. The Shelah writes that the way of tzaddikim is that, once Hashem promises them something good, they immediately sing shirah and praise to Hashem. This practice of tzaddikim, elaborates the Shelah, is contingent on their level of bitachon in Hashem. Because Klal Yisrael’s faith and trust in Hashem wasn’t yet so strong at that point, they only sang shirah after Hashem brought His promise to fruition and saved them from the pursuing Egyptians. However, concludes the Shelah, when the tidings of Mashiach’s imminent arrival will be announced, at that point Klal Yisrael’s level of emunah and bitachon will be on such a level that they will sing shirah immediately, even before Mashiach actually arrives! (From Reb Chaim Rosen)

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