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"Ani Ma'amin --- I Believe!"

01/15/2019 03:33:07 PM


Rabbi Reuben Israel Abraham, CDR, CHC, USN (ret)

This Shabbat is known as "Shabbat Shirah" - "the Sabbath of Song."  It receives this name because two profoundly important songs are contained in both the weekly parashah [Torah portion] and the haftarah.  In the haftarah we find the Song of Devorah, the great prophetess and judge who saved B'nei Yisrael from military defeat.  In the weekly parashah [Parashat Beshalach] we find "Shirat HaYam" - "the Song of the Sea." This is the song that Moshe and the B'nei Yisrael sang after being saved at the Sea of Reeds by the "hand" of Hashem.  The Song of the Sea begins as follows: "Az yashir Moshe u-VeNei Yisrael...."Then Moshe and the B'Nei Yisrael sang...."  However, that translation of the Hebrew is grammatically incorrect.  Even our Sages say that it should be read as it is written: "Then Moshe and the B'Nei Yisrael will sing...."  The reason why it should be read this way is found in the Talmud.  There it explains that this phrase is one of the indications of "techiyat hameitim" - "the resurrection of the dead."  The Talmud is telling us that at the time of the coming of the Mashiach [the Messiah], Moshe and B'Nei Yisrael will then sing Shirat HaYam.  The Belzer Rebbe during World War II, Rav Aron, explained that Moshe decided to start the words of Shirat HaYam in the way he did because he knew there would be the day when the B'Nei Yisrael would once again see all who had perished in the Land of Egypt during the period of enslavement on the day that they would be resurrected.

There is the story about a widow living in Jerusalem who lost her only son in one of Israel's wars.  The woman was inconsolable.  She refused to participate in any of her family's simchot [joyous occasions].  The only events she would attend were funerals.  She reasoned that with no husband and no son, what possible joy could she have in life?  After a funeral she attended, she was walking with a woman who decided to stop at the grave of the famed tzaddik of Jerusalem, Rabbi Aryeh Levine, in order to recite some psalms.  On his tombstone can be found the following: "I request that anyone who comes to pray at my grave should say wholeheartedly 'I believe with complete faith that there will be a revivification of the dead whenever the wish emanates from the Creator, Blessed is His Name and Exalted is His mention ---forever and for all eternity.'"  When the widow read these words, they struck a chord in her heart and soul.  It suddenly became a reality to her that she would one day see her son again.  From that moment on, she began to live her life again knowing that her son would be brought back to her at the time of techiyat hameitim.  And, as we all know and pray, that could happen anytime!

I officiate at funerals during which family members of the deceased deliver heartfelt eulogies.  More often than not each person ends the eulogy by expressing the firm belief that they will once again see their beloved departed.  As this declaration of faith gives each person some consolation over his/her loss, it usually means that this will happen after they die.  Perhaps the belief in techiyat hameitim as taught by our tradition will help those who mourn to once again sing songs of joy while they are yet alive in this world.  "Ani ma'amin!"  I believe that it will!   


Wed, August 21 2019 20 Av 5779