On Tuesday evening, January 31, community women gathered at the Agudath Israel of Queens, located in the Yeshiva of Central Queens building, in spite of the freezing temperatures, to hear an enlightening shiur from Rabbi Mordechai Finkelman shlita, well-known speaker and educator, Mashgiach at Yeshivas Ohr HaChaim.

Rabbi Finkelman shared that the Shirah in this week’s Parshas B’Shalach is a song with tremendous hope. Az Yashir is worded in the future tense to show that at the time of T’chiyas HaMeisim, Moshe will sing it with us.

He shared that, according to a midrash, 80 percent of the Jews didn’t leave Egypt. Hashem took them during the plague of Darkness. We as Jews have a sensitive soul, and those Jews couldn’t stay in that impure place. Hashem couldn’t let them be in a place filled with deep immorality unless they had a great leader.

He shared that Mordechai and Esther waited a year before the holiday of Purim was instituted. They waited to see if an aura of k’dushah would come back at that time of year, and it did. We can access the possibility of g’ulah on Purim.

In Egypt, B’nei Yisrael davened to Hashem by groaning, and Hashem was waiting for them to ask. After B’nei Yisrael cried out, then Hashem took them out. Hashem has brachos for us, but He wants a relationship with us, so He is waiting for us to ask for those brachos.

Az Yashir is the first song about suffering. Moshe is thanking Hashem because now he understands why they had to endure so much suffering. In the same way, when Mashiach comes, we will understand why we had to go through what we did.

Rabbi Finkelman shared an incredible story about a Nazi who placed a paroches on the entrance to the gas chamber, hoping to add more pain to the Jews. When the Yidden saw the embroidered message on it – “This is the gate to Hashem; tzadikim will come through it” – they began to sing and dance and to recite verses from Hallel. The Nazis were infuriated and told them to stop. Rabbi Finkelman noted, “Such emunah! The paroches inspired them with such emunah!” We can access such emunah on Shabbos Shirah.

Rabbi Finkelman noted that Az Yashir is the first shirah ever sung for a tzarah.

He taught that Pesach has two meanings. It means Hashem passed over the Jews’ houses, and it also means “peh sach” – we finally found words. We saw the Egyptians dead, and we sang shirah. He shared that the night of the first Pesach the Jews sang a song with no words. On the seventh day, we sang with words.

We learned that our neshamos were created in the sanctuary of pleasure. Our soul needs pleasure. If it doesn’t receive spiritual pleasure, then it seeks physical pleasure.

The power of music comes from the sanctuary of melody. That sanctuary is next to the sanctuary of t’shuvah. Music can bring a person to do t’shuvah.

So, Adam sang words of praise when he sang the Shir shel Shabbos. The shirah of the first Pesach night was a song without words. The Song of the Sea also had words.

The parshah ushers in Tu BiSh’vat, which is the time we daven for a good esrog and good fruit. We attach ourselves to Hashem by performing His commandments – and we are the fruits of His tree. Hashem needs nothing. He gave us the ability to develop love for Him through His commandments – and yet, He rewards us for every good thought, word, and deed. When we light the Chanukah lights, we ask Hashem to light up Hashem’s neir, which is our neshamah.

Similarly, we should daven for good crops and daven that we should be good fruits. Rav Shimshon Dovid Pincus taught that the beginning of each sefer of the Chumash tells what the sefer is about. B’reishis is about creation and ends with the creation of Yaakov and his descendants who will serve Hashem.

The first parshah of Sh’mos is about B’nei Yisrael and g’ulah. After we cry out to Hashem, then He appears to Moshe in the burning bush.

Rabbi Finkelman then shared that the first t’hilah in T’hilim expresses what the whole book of T’hilim is about. “Fortunate is the person who doesn’t listen to ideas of the wicked, and doesn’t stand in the path of sinners, and doesn’t sit in a place of scorners. This person walks with Torah, and he will be like a tree planted with a lot of water. Fruits will ripen at the right time. Whatever this person does will be successful.” King David is telling us the power of a place. Don’t go to places where people sinned.

A place can pulse with sin. Rav Avraham Schorr taught why we speak about shoes in the morning blessings. This is referred to when we thank G-d for providing for all of our clothes. Why are shoes singled out as a particular blessing? Shoes keep us away from the negative vibrations of the sins of places we walk over. Moshe was told to remove his shoes when he was in such a holy place so he could receive the k’dushah coming out of the ground.

He shared stories about great rabbis who could sense there was holiness in a place and knew someone holy had been there. The place absorbs holiness.

Rabbi Finkelman concluded that we are Hashem’s tree and fruit. “Bring them. Plant them on Har HaBayis. We should be zocheh very soon to be planted as a beautiful tree in Israel and Moshe will sing with us.”

The community appreciates the beautiful shiurim and inspiration that Rabbi Finkelman shares with us.

By Susie Garber