Haysah Yehudah l’kodsho, Yisrael mamsh’losav.
Then the tribe of Yehudah became His holy nation (for jumping into the threatening Yam Suf first), and klal Yisrael became under Hashem’s rule (and no longer under the Egyptians’ rule).
According to one understanding of our pasuk, the tribe of Yehudah became the catalyst to generate “k’dushah.” Nachshon ben Aminadav, the leader of the sheivet, was the first one to jump into the Yam Suf, declaring his bitachon – his trust and reliance – upon Hashem. He was followed by the rest of the tribe, and subsequently was followed by all of B’nei Yisrael. This m’siras nefesh of Sheivet Yehudah is what generated the kiddush Hashem (the sanctification of Hashem’s Name) through the Splitting of the Sea and the many miracles that ensued. The world saw that Hashem, having created nature, continues to control it and can override it at will. [Based on the Malbim, T’hilim 114:2]
This is a very important lesson that we need to learn and remind ourselves of constantly. Every decision we make to do or not to do something, to say or not to say something, to think or not to think something, has an impact not only on us, but on the world.
Ha’yotzeir yachad libam, ha’meichin el kol maaseihem.
He Who fashions their hearts together, Who comprehends all their deeds. [T’hilim 33:15]
While we cannot know what effect our deeds have, Hashem understands precisely where they will have an impact. The word el (to) seems out of place in the above pasuk. Hashem understands to (?) all their deeds? It means that Hashem understands “to where” our deeds are going. He understands the cause and effect of every action, speech, thought.
Nachshon realized that he was performing a great act of m’siras nefesh. However, he likely did not comprehend the dramatic kiddush Hashem that his courageous act was going to lead to.
Most of the time, we do not consider the impact of our deeds. Baruch Hashem, we perform many mitzvos. We learn Torah, daven, perform acts of chesed, give tz’dakah, and much more. So often, we are on “auto-pilot.” We perform our mitzvos perfunctorily, without much thought or heart.
Imagine that one day we meet a rosh yeshivah whom we don’t know, and he tells us that we had a dramatic impact on his life. After our initial shock, we ask how that could be, since we don’t even know him. He informs us that, 40 years ago, he was a young child who had recently lost his father in Israel. His family was very poor to begin with, and now with their father gone, things looked hopeless. An organization stepped in and provided for the physical and emotional needs of the family. He relates to us, “That organization saved my life. I wanted to find out who had made it possible for that organization to provide what we needed, and I found out that you were one of the people who helped make that possible. You saved my life and enabled me to become whatever I am today.” How would we feel? If we saw the results of our acts of tz’dakah and chesed, how would that change the degree of effort, thought, and heart we expend?
While most of us are not in a position to make such a material contribution, we all daven. Imagine that, after 120, we are shown what our tefilos or acts of chesed on a particular day accomplished. We were the catalyst that “caused” Hashem to save a family from a missile that would have killed the family and destroyed their home. If we were shown in advance, in this world, what our next tefilah could accomplish, what would that tefilah look like, compared to our average tefilah?
What can we do to energize ourselves to rise to daven with greater mind and heart, reminding ourselves of the awesome potential each tefilah possesses?
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.