Ezras Avoseinu #8: Trust and Triumph

וים סוף בקעת, וזדים טבעת, וידידים העברת

Yam Suf You split, the wanton sinners You drowned, the dear ones You brought across…

Why are we first mentioning the drowning of the Mitzriyim before the successful crossing of B’nei Yisrael? It seems out of chronological order. Rinas Chaim, quoting Siach Yitzchak, tells us that the first wave of Mitzriyim actually made it all the way across, and were chasing B’nei Yisrael on the other side. As long as they were still being chased, B’nei Yisrael could not feel that they had been saved and finally rescued. It was only after Hashem performed another miracle, and brought the waters of the Yam Suf out of the sea to drown the Mitzriyim who made it across and were still in pursuit, that we finally felt safe and rescued.

Therefore, stating the drowning of the Mitzriyim before the passing of the B’nei Yisrael is correct, because it was only after their drowning that we truly passed over and were completely rescued.

Why were we called “y’didim” – very close friends – of Hashem? HaRav Schwab explains that it was as a result of our bitachon. Hashem told us to go into the Yam Suf before the water split, and we did, led by Nachshon ben Aminadav. It was only after we exhibited complete bitachon (total trust and reliance on Hashem), and were already in the Yam Suf, that the sea split.

Integrating Mitzvos into Our Daily Lives

Despite the awesome power of tefilah, the power of bitachon is even beyond that of tefilah. Here, Hashem said to Moshe: מה תצעק אלי? דבר אל בני ישראל ויסעו!–Mah titz’ak eilai? Dabeir el B’nei Yisrael v’yisa’u! (Why are you crying to me? Speak to B’nei Yisrael that they should go forward!) This was a case where tefilah could not save us, but bitachon did.

The Gemara in Maseches B’rachos (4b) states that one who juxtaposes g’ulah to Shemoneh Esrei (which we do each day in Shacharis and Maariv) is considered a ben Olam HaBa. Rabbeinu Yonah asks why this seemingly simple task merits such a great reward. His second answer is that when we speak about the g’ulah immediately prior to entering Shemoneh Esrei and asking Hashem for our needs and requests, we are demonstrating our bitachon the way B’nei Yisrael did when they jumped into the Yam Suf and were saved as a result. Just as they had bitachon that Hashem would save them, so too we make requests of Hashem with bitachon that He will answer us.

Rabbeinu Yonah concludes that since bitachon is “ikar ha’yir’ah v’ha’emunah,” that is why one merits Olam HaBa for juxtaposing the g’ulas Mitzrayim to Shemoneh Esrei. It is in merit of the bitachon that we (should) have right now as we begin Shemoneh Esrei.

Each time we say the words “Baruch Atah Hashem” at the end of a “request brachah” in the Shemoneh Esrei, we should internalize this message: You, Hashem, are THE (only) source of knowledge, healing, parnasah, etc. Whatever brachah we are completing, let us drive home in our hearts that success in that area is totally dependent on Hashem, and no human being or other factor or event can change a positive result if Hashem wants us to be successful.

One huge success is certain: If we have bitachon, we will receive reward for our bitachon that is of far greater value than any success we are seeking in any area. (See Rabbeinu Yonah on Mishlei 3:6, where he makes this statement and adds that the reward for bitachon is “above the heavens.”)