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Experiencing the Present, Into the Future

Torah Thoughts on Parshas Beshalach by Rabbi Yeshai Koenigsberg

"נָחִיתָ בְחַסְדְךָ עַם זוּ גָאָלְתָּ נֵהַלְתָּ בְעָזְךָ אֶל נְוֵה קָדְשֶׁךָ"  שְׁמוֹת ט''ו:י''ג

“With your kindness You led this people that you redeemed; you led with your might to Your holy abode.” Shemos 15:13

When examining the themes of the Song of the Sea, one is struck by the references to the Beis HaMikdash, which, given the events of the splitting of the sea and the context of the epic Song of Az Yashir, seem out of place. There are three instances where reference is made to the Beis HaMikdash. Two instances are explicit. They are: “You led with your might to Your holy abode.” (15:13); and “The place You made to dwell in, God; the sanctuary, God, which Your hands established.” (v.17) The third is based on the interpretation of Targum, cited by Rashi, relating the word "וְאַנְוֵ֭הוּ" to the word "נָוֶה", abode: “This is my God and I will make for Him an abode (וְאַנְוֵ֭הוּ), the God of my father and I will exalt Him.” (15:2)

What is the association between the splitting of the sea – קְרִיעַת יַם סוּף – and the Beis HaMikdash that prompts Bnei Yisrael to relate to it in their שִׁירָה in such a marked way? At the time of the splitting of the sea, Bnei Yisrael witnessed an unprecedented Divine revelation. Rashi on the above verse, explains the phrase “This is my God”, saying that He revealed Himself to them in His Glory and they would point to Him with a finger; a lowly maidservant saw at the sea what the prophets did not see.

This unprecedented revelation generated in Bnei Yisrael the desire to retain that experience in some form and not allow it to merely dissipate as they journeyed from Yam Suf. They were thus prompted to invoke the Beis HaMikdash, which awaited them in the future and which would house a perpetual revelation of the Divine. Moreover, they were ready to act towards that end and see to it that the Beis HaMikdash would become a reality.

The declaration the nation made, “This is my God”, then leads to the immediate commitment of “I will build a נָוֶה – a place” where the  Shechinah will reside. This declaration conveys their firm commitment to maintaining an ongoing place for the Shechinah among them, one that was meant to perpetuate the level that had been achieved at Yam Suf.

In his שיעורי חומש, Rav Shlomo Wolbe writes that this is always necessary when one experiences any uplifting and inspirational moment – a time of profound uplifting and stirring spiritual charge. One needs to insure that the inspiration not dissipate once the experience has passed, but rather to do something concrete to insure its continued impact.  Transient feelings achieve permanence when transformed into action. By "seizing the moment", the present reaches into the future.


Rabbi Yeshai Koenigsberg (FYHS 1975) continued his learning at Yeshivat Shaalvim, Ner Yisrael, and Mir Yerushalayim. He also earned an M.S. at Johns Hopkins University. He was formerly a Maggid Shiur at Ohr Yerushalayim, and is currently a Mashgiach Ruchani at Yeshivat Yishrei Lev in Telz Stone. He and his family live in Har Nof, Yerushalayim.

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