V’ne’emar: v’hayah Hashem l’melech al kol ha’aretz, ba’yom hahu yihyeh Hashem echad u’sh’mo echad.

And it also says [Zecharyah 14:9]: And then (at the time of Mashiach) Hashem will be king over the entire world; on that day (even the gentiles will realize that) Hashem is One (and there is no other power) and His Name will be One (mentioned by everyone).


The final two segments of Al Kein will also serve as a segue into our next series, which is on Hallel. This is a most opportune time for these two segments and the start of Hallel, as we head into the Yom Tov of Pesach, in which Hallel is prominent both within the Seder and within our tefilos.

These two segments, with permission from Judaica Illuminations (Brooklyn and Scarsdale, New York), are presented verbatim from Hallel – Shirei Yonah: A Treasury of Illumination, Calligraphy, Commentary, Insights, and Laws. I felt that it was so beautifully written by Rabbi Yonah Weinrib that I wanted to present his full original writing. His sefer Hallel – Shirei Yonah is magnificent both in his artistic presentations and in his insightful and inspiring commentary. He has a similar style Haggadah, which no doubt is beautiful inside and out, as well.

In the middle of Rabbi Weinrib’s piece, you will find the final pasuk of Al Kein and its understanding.

You may want to consider adding these two segments to your Seder on Pesach, as well.


Songs in Sorrow, Songs in Joy

The Midrash says, “From the beginning of creation until the splitting of the Red Sea, no one sang praise to G-d except the people of Israel (Sh’mos Rabbah). Even though there were instances where others did in fact sing praise, the song at Yam Suf was of a different nature. Earlier generations were able to sing songs of praise when they experienced miraculous salvations or wondrous feats on their behalf. The recognition of the Jews at the Yam Suf was different. Not only was their Exodus a cause to sing shirah, but their exile and servitude were parts of the self-same redemption process. The Divine Presence seemed to be hidden, as it were – a הסתר פנים in times of pain and sorrow. This, too, is all part of G-d’s Master Plan for an infinitely greater revelation. Even the maidservant saw the Glory of G-d at Yam Suf, and they saw that the Hand of G-d, which allowed them to be afflicted in Egypt, was the same Fatherly Hand that led them to safety. If the purpose of creation is to glorify the Name of G-d, then each step in that process, though at times it is difficult to comprehend, is part of the sorrow and the joy that bring it about.

It is difficult to sing out exultantly to G-d through the pain and sorrow of this world. We see G-d through veils of concealment, hidden behind layer upon layer of physicality. Tosafos (P’sachim 117a) makes a distinction between shirah, in the feminine, and shir, a masculine reference to song. Shirah, the weaker form, represents the song of this world; it is encumbered by pain and suffering. The complete song of the World to Come is free from travail, and takes the masculine, stronger form, shir.

The Midrash sites a statement made by Moses to G-d. He said, I know I sinned before You using the word az, as I said, “U’mei’az basi el Par’o – From the time that I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your Name, You made it worse for the Jewish people (Exodus 5:22). I will therefore use the word az to praise You, as it says: Az yashir Moshe – then Moses will sing.”

The Midrash teaches us a profound lesson. When the Jews were suffering in Egypt, G-d saw the plight of a downtrodden, oppressed people. How can the Name of G-d possibly be glorified when His children are being subjugated by their taskmasters? Only when Moses and the Jewish nation saw the Omnipotent Hand of G-d at Yam Suf did they realize retroactively the ultimate purpose for their suffering. The song of אז at Yam Suf was not only for the salvation of the Jews; it was a hymn of praise to G-d for our slavery and exile as well. When mortal man witnesses the ultimate purpose and intent of G-d’s actions, those he believes to be harmful and those that are gloriously uplifting, there is truly reason to sing out in praise (Beis HaLevi).

In Psalms 126:2, there is another reference to azAz yimalei s’chok pinu (Then [in the World to Come] our mouths will be filled with laughter. Moses and the Jews were privileged to catch a glimpse of the world of ultimate perfection, seeing agony and ecstasy as synchronized tools to reveal G-d’s glory. For the rest of us, Jews who are so far removed from the nation that was forged in the crucible of Egyptian slavery, we must wait for the future. Even in the frustration borne of our inability to reconcile the happenings of this world, there is the promise and the comfort that one day all things will be clearly understood.

The Talmud (P’sachim 50a) explains this dichotomy based on a phrase in our prayers: “And G-d will be a King on all the land, on that day G-d will be One and His Name will be One.” Isn’t G-d One even now? Why do we infer that only on that day, in the World to Come, He will be One? Rabbi Acha bar Chanina says, “This world is not like the World to Come. In this world, on good tidings we say the blessing “Blessed (is He) Who is good and bestows goodness,” and on bad tidings (such as the death of a loved one), one says, “Blessed is the true judge.” In the World to Come, G-d will be praised with the brachah “Blessed is He Who is good and bestows goodness.”


The conclusion of Songs in Sorrow, Songs in Joy will appear next week, b’ezras Hashem, in the segment of Al Kein 9.


To access print versions of previous Tefilah segments, please visit OU Torah’s Search portal, select the Topic of “Tefillah,” and then select “Weekly Tefilah Focus” from the Series list.


For Rabbi Mordechai Finkelman’s video and audio shiurim, which are based on our Tefilah Focus segments but also include his insightful and inspiring additions, please visit TorahAnytime.com or simply search for “TorahAnytime Rabbi Finkelman.”

You can direct any questions or comments to Eliezer Szrolovits at 917-551-0150.