The Rambam states in his Thirteen Middos, “I believe with perfect faith that there will be a revival of the dead whenever the wish emanates from the Creator, Blessed is His Name….”
This Shabbos we will read the following in Parshas Beshalach: “On that day, Hashem saved Israel from the hand of Egypt and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great hand that Hashem inflicted upon Egypt and the people revered Hashem and they had faith in Hashem and in Moshe, His servant. Then Moshe and the Children of Israel chose to sing this song to Hashem, and they said the following, ‘I shall sing to Hashem for He is exalted above the arrogant, having hurled horse with its rider into the sea. The might and vengeance of God was salvation for me. This is my God and I will build Him a Sanctuary, the God of my father and I will exalt Him.’ ”
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Where in fact do we learn from the Torah that there is something called resurrection of the dead? There is no direct statement. But there is a hint, a remez, in the passage quoted above.
We learn in Sanhedrin 91b, “It was taught in a beraisa: Where [do we find an allusion] to the resurrection of the dead in the [Written] Torah? For it is stated, ‘Then Moshe and the children of Israel will sing this song to Hashem.’ ‘He sang’ is not stated, but rather ‘He will sing.’ Here [we have an allusion] to the resurrection of the dead in the [Written] Torah.”
Why did the Torah choose to place the hint of techias hameisim precisely in this place? The Torah is so big. Why here? I once heard a magnificent answer to that question.
A few years after the Second World War, a small group of survivors from Europe arrived in Israel by ship. They were physically and spiritually like dead men, having lost everything in the torture and chaos of wartime Europe. Docking in Tel Aviv, they felt they had no strength or hope to go on with their lives. They had heard, however, that the Belzer Rebbe (who himself had lost almost his entire family in the Holocaust), was in Tel Aviv and they decided to go to the Rebbe for chizuk, for strength to go on.
This is what he told them:
“Do you know where in the Torah we find a reference to techias hameisim? It is well known that our rabbis found a hint in the Song that the Children of Israel sang at the Red Sea after their escape from Egypt and the drowning of their pursuers. The words ‘az yashir Moshe’ imply a future redemption after our final escape from our enemies at the end of history, implying that ‘Moshe will sing’ a song in the future, rather than that ‘Moshe sang a song.’ But why did the Torah insert the reference at this particular place? It could have been anywhere.
“Try to understand what was happening to the Children of Israel at that time: they had just come from Egypt. Our rabbis tell us that during the Ninth Plague [darkness] four-fifths of the Children of Israel had died, possibly because they were reluctant to follow Moshe Rabbeinu out of Egypt. Whatever the reason, there was not one person among Am Yisrael who was not in mourning as they left Egypt. All of them had lost close family members.
“How is it possible that a nation in mourning should be able to stand at the shores of the Red Sea and sing Shira, a song praising God, which is considered the highest level of simcha, happiness? How can one person, let alone an entire nation, be transformed in one moment from a state of mourning to the highest level of happiness?
About the Author: Roy Neuberger's latest book, “2020 Vision” (Feldheim) is available in English, Hebrew, Spanish, French, Russian, and Georgian. An e-edition is available at www.feldheim.com. Roy is also the author of "From Central Park to Sinai: How I Found My Jewish Soul” (available in English, Hebrew and Russian, and Georgian) and “Worldstorm.” Roy and Leah Neuberger speak publicly on topics related to his books and articles. He can be contacted at email@example.com or through his websites www.tosinai.com and www.2020visionthebook.com.
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