Halacha for Sunday 20 Nissan 5784 April 28 2024

The Seventh Day of Pesach

Based on a Derasha Delivered by Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l

When the Jewish nation left Egypt and the Red Sea split for them, the Torah states: “The messenger of Hashem, who had been going ahead of the Israelite army, now moved, and followed behind them; and the pillar of cloud shifted from in front of them and took up a place behind them, and it came between the army of the Egyptians and the army of Israel. Thus, there was the cloud with the darkness, and it illuminated the night, so that the one could not come near the other all through the night.”

The Gemara (Megillah 10b) states that at that moment, the Heavenly angels wished to sing before Hashem, however, Hashem interjected, “My creations are drowning in the sea and you wish to sing to Me?!” At first glance, it seems that Hashem was chastising the angels for wanting to sing while the Egyptians were drowning in the sea, as this was an inappropriate time for this.

However, this seems somewhat difficult, for at that moment, the Egyptians were on dry land within the sea along with the Jewish nation and they had not drowned yet. If so, why did Hashem exclaim that “my creations are drowning in the sea?” Additionally, the Torah praises the initiative of Moshe Rabbeinu and the Jewish nation who sang to Hashem after they crossed the Red Sea safely, and interestingly, the gist of this song was regarding the downfall of their enemies. Indeed, the verse states, “The chariots of Pharaoh and his army did He cast down into the sea; and the choicest of his troops were drowned in the Red Sea.” If so, why did Hashem rebuke the angels when they wished to sing to Him, while He accepted the Jewish nation’s song so graciously?

Maran zt”l explains, quoting Rabbeinu Shmuel Horowitz (in his Sefer Divrei Shalom, page 39), based on the Gemara (Sanhedrin 95b) regarding Sanheriv, king of Assyria, who came to wage war against King Chizkiyahu. That night, an angel of Hashem came and killed the entire Assyrian army. The verse states, “And it was on that night, the angel of Hashem went out and smote in the Assyrian camp one-hundred eighty-five thousand; when they awoke in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.” Rabbi Yitzchak Napacha taught that the angel killed the entire Assyrian army by opening their ears and allowing them to hear songs being sung by the Holy Creatures (a certain type of angel). Immediately, their souls departed their bodies.

Here too, the Heavenly angels wished to sing and allow the Egyptians to hear their song and die, to which Hashem responded that “my creations,” a reference to the Jewish people, “are drowning in the sea,” a reference to the Egyptians drowning Jewish baby boys in the Nile River. Thus, I must be the one to drown them, measure for measure, and you wish to grant them a peaceful death by hearing the song of the angels?!

Just as Hashem performed tremendous miracles and wonders for our forefathers at the Red Sea, Hashem shall once again perform great miracles for the Jewish nation and seek vengeance from its enemies. Indeed, these miracles shall overshadow the miracles Hashem performed for the Jewish nation at the time of the Exodus from Egypt, as the verse states, “Assuredly, a time is coming—declares Hashem—when it shall no more be said, ‘As Hashem lives who brought the Jewish nation out of the land of Egypt,’ but rather, ‘As Hashem lives who brought the Jewish nation out of the northland, and out of all the lands to which He had banished them.’ For I will bring them back to their land, which I gave to their fathers.” This means that one day, these miracles shall be far greater than the miracles Hashem performed for us when we left Egypt. May we merit witnessing the Final Redemption and fulfillment of the verse, “Like the days you left Egypt shall I show them wonders,” speedily and in our days, Amen!

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