Az Yashir: Asher Asah Hashem B’Mitzrayim

Va’yar Yisrael es ha’yad ha’g’dolah asher asah Hashem b’Mitzrayim

Yisrael saw the great hand that Hashem inflicted upon Egypt…


The words “asher asah Hashem (that Hashem inflicted)” seem superfluous. Who else performed these miracles?

This question leads us into delving more deeply – and into understanding more clearly: [1] the purpose of all the miracles that Hashem performed for us in Mitzrayim and at K’rias Yam Suf, and [2] precisely why Moshe Rabbeinu and B’nei Yisrael sang the Shirah.

Let’s examine the miracles. If the purpose of all of the miracles was simply to take us out of Mitzrayim and punish the Egyptians, why didn’t Hashem simply cause them to die in a plague or some other natural way? Why the need for the multitude and magnitude of such stupendous miracles?

Additionally, aside from praising and thanking Hashem for His chesed and for saving us, were there other less obvious reasons?

The shiras Miriam consisted of just a few words. It would seem that those words comprise the essence of why all of B’nei Yisrael sang shirah. The word “ki” here means “because.” Both Moshe Rabbeinu’s shirah and Miriam’s shirah provide the reason they sang: “ki ga’oh ga’ah (because Hashem was exalted above the arrogant).” Why is the same root word used here for “exalted” and “arrogant”? These words teach us that aside from thanking and praising Hashem for His great miracles and lovingkindness, we are primarily thanking Him for the great gift of “daas.” This gift of daas – clarity in Hashem’s total supremacy and control, uniqueness, Oneness, and His love for us – is the primary success of man, and attaining this level of daas is among the primary purposes of life. We are here to gain greater clarity and closeness to Hashem. At K’rias Yam Suf, the lowest of B’nei Yisrael had greater clarity than the Navi Yechezkel ben Buzi in all of his prophecies. This gift of clarity is why Hashem performed all the miracles and why B’nei Yisrael sang shirah.

Now we can understand the purpose of writing “asher asah Hashem.” Asah means with purpose. Hashem performed these miracles for the purpose of giving us this gift of clarity.

The Chovos HaL’vavos (Shaar HaB’chinah, perek 5) writes that the two greatest tovos (favors) that Hashem has gifted to us are the Torah and the miracles, specifically K’rias Yam Suf, performed through Moshe Rabbeinu. He says that these are also the greatest proofs of Hashem’s existence and continuing control. These are the greatest gifts because they bring us the greatest clarity. May we merit to enhance our clarity each day as we say the Shirah with mindfulness and heart.

(based on Tefilas Avigdor, by HaRav Avigdor Miller zt”l)


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