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Cause Célèbre

Thursday, 17 January, 2019 - 1:17 pm

We go through many miracles in life. Every breath is a gift from G-d.

But, imagine escaping unscathed in a 23-car collision. Or, you missed a flight, only to discover the tardiness saved your life. You survive wrongful imprisonment in a third-world country. You beat the odds and recover from a life-threatening illness.

In those instances, we feel impelled to offer up some extra thanksgiving to our Creator.

In Judaism, we have a special prayer called Hagomel, which is recited for these types of events.


Looking back at Jewish history, perhaps the greatest communal act of thanksgiving occurs in this week’s parsha Beshalach. In fact, this Shabbat is also known as Shabbat Shirah, the Shabbat of Song – due to the famous song of praise it features. After the Splitting of the Sea the Jewish people sang a moving song known as Az Yashir, which was later incorporated into the daily Shacharit prayers.

We only find several such songs in all of Tanach, this one being the most extensive.

Certainly, the miracle of Splitting the Sea was deserving of utter jubilation. The Jews were free at last and had been saved in dramatic fashion.

But, if thanksgiving is so important, why don’t we find more of it in the Torah?

Another miracle recorded in this week’s parsha, for example, is the mahn (manna). This heavenly food sustained the Jewish people in the wilderness. Without it they would have starved.

Why didn’t the Jews sing a song of praise to G-d for providing food from heaven?


The great Chassidic Master Rabbi Israel of Ruzhin, points to the introductory verses of this Song to help us understand its uniqueness.

And Israel saw the great hand, which the Lord had used upon the Egyptians, and the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in Moshe, His servant.

Then Moshe and the children of Israel sang this song to the Lord, and they spoke, saying, I will sing to the Lord, for very exalted is He; a horse and its rider He cast into the sea.

The Jews, explained the holy Rebbe of Ruzhin, did not sing to G-d merely to thank G-d for the wondrous miracles. Rather, they sang because they had finally arrived at a place of faith and devotion to Hashem.

This is the meaning of the connecting word “then” between the two verses. They believed in Hashem. Then they sang a song of praise to Hashem.

Miracles happen all the time. Major miracles also happen from time to time.

Oftentimes, we overlook them or simply fail to recognize their origin.

When we are truly focused on and devoted to the source of our miracles – it’s time to sing. Now, it’s not just a miracle that G-d has performed. After all, He is all-capable. No biggie for Him.

The real miracle is that we are in the zone; that we have internalized the benevolence and intimacy of Hashem.

When G-d split the sea, the Jews weren’t only swept up in the drama. They were consumed with a fiery faith and a passionate rejoicing in their Creator.

That’s a cause célèbre.

What’s your cause célèbre?

Comments on: Cause Célèbre

Darryl & Sheila Sheila Ford wrote...

When I fell asleep while driving (stupidest thing I ever did) and ran off the road & rolled the truck in the ditch and our daughter, Leah was sleeping in the bed of the truck... WITH the refrigerator dolly! and didn't even get a scratch! G-d was with us!