August 21, 2017 ~ Shabbat SHOFETIM. Maqam AJAM.

Shabbat Beshalah

Human Dignity

אז ישיר משה ובני ישראל - Was Israel's "Song of the Sea" an appropriate response to witnessing the downfall of their enemies? After all, Proverbs 24:17 states "Do not rejoice at the downfall of your enemy" (בנפל אויבך אל תשמח)! The answer is that Israel did not derive pleasure from Egypt's defeat, but rather experienced great relief as a result of their miraculous escape from an existential threat. Israel's initial reaction to the divine intervention was that of shock; first, they feared God (וייראו העם את ה׳), then they increased their faith in God (ויאמינו בה׳ ובמשה עבדו), and only then, did they praise God and celebrate (אז ישיר משה ובני ישראל). The Children of Israel did not sink to the barbaric level of rejoicing the actual drownings of the Egyptians. The celebrations only began as a result of a clear realization that God orchestrated justice in the world by destroying those who have committed wrong (Beth Torah, 2/11/17).