THE THREE PRECIOUS GIFTS WE MUST USE MORE OFTEN | PARSHAS BESHALACH
In tefillas Shacharis we say על זאת שבחו אהובים וידידים העברת that Am Yisrael during Kerias Yam Suf acquired the title of ידידים "beloved ones". Similarly, in the Payit of YomLeyabasha recited during the BrisMilah celebration we also mention this title at Kerias Yam Suf ידידים רוממוך בשירה קדמוך. The Rambam in Hilchos Teshuvah 7,6 writes that after one does teshuvah he is called קרוב and ידיד. When he was a sinner he became distanced and estranged from Hashem. However, after teshuva he became קרוב and ידיד close and beloved. The Eretz Tzvi writes that the complete teshuvah of Bnei Yisrael leaving Mitzrayim came about on the 7th day of Kerias Yam Suf. Therefore it is very befitting to be called the title of ידידים on the seventh day of Pesach since it was then that they achieved full teshuvah.
Let us extend this concept even more. We say during the Yamim Noraim ותשובה ותפלה וצדקה מעבירין את רוע הגזירה that these three merits push away the evil decree. We can therefore assume that Yisrael did not only fulfill the act of teshuvah but also deeds of tefillah and tzedakah. First let us expand on the acts of tzedakah that Yisrael fulfilled leaving Mitzrayim. The passuk says וחמושים עלו בני ישראל ממצרים and the Targum Yonasan explains five children. The Be'er Yosef interprets the Targum to mean five sets of children. He explains that Chazal say that four fifths of Yisrael died during the plague of Darkness. What happened to all of their millions of yesomim and yesomos that didn't die? They were taken on as fostered children by the 1/5 that remained and left Mitzrayim. So in essence every family that left Mitzrayim now had five sets of children, one of their own and another four families of orphans. It is fair to say that each family became an orphanage with at least 70 orphans. This is the tzedaka and chesed that Yisrael took upon themselves while leaving Mitzrayim without any food planned going into the desert. Hashem praises Yisrael for this incredible emunah and sacrifice with the words זכרתי לך חסד נעוריך אהבת כלולותיך לכתך אחרי במדבר בארץ לא זרועה the chesed of your youth is taking on the responsibility to sustain all these yesomim and yesomos not even knowing how you yourself and your family will obtain food during the desert journey. They therefore fulfilled the highest level of tzedaka by each family opening a personal orphanage for all these parentless children.
At Kerias Yam Suf, Yisrael demonstrated the purity of their tefillah to Hashem. Rashi says on the words ויצעקו that they took on the craft of their forefathers, tefillah. Why does Rashi have to tell us that they davened as their fathers did? It is to let us know that when Yisrael were being attacked from behind by Mitzrayim they davened like their fathers – lishma – for the sake of heaven and not for themselves. Moshe Rabbeinu told them התיצבו וראו ישועת ה' you will now see the salvation of Hashem that His kovid will be restored. The tefillos of Bnei Yisrael were on the highest levels of purity and thereby fulfilled tefillah on the highest plane to alter the evil decree on them.
As we mentioned above the term ידידים which infers teshuvah was given to Yisrael at Kerias Yam Suf. Chazal tell us that the entire Shevet of Yehudah and Binyamin threw themselves into the Yam Suf. They were willing to sacrifice their lives for the will of Hashem. There is no greater teshuvah than this.
Since Klal Yisrael on the seventh day of Yetzias Mitzrayim achieved all three levels of תשובה תפלה וצדקה they also reached the level of זאת . The sefarim explain that the parallel to these three is צום fasting which is teshvua, ממון which is tzedaka, קול which corresponds to tefillah. All three add up to זאת 408 . Therefore KlalYisrael attained the level of זאת at the event of KeriasYamSuf. The passuk says בזאת יבוא אהרן אל הקודש. On Yom Kippur the holiest day of the year the Kohen Gadol enters the Holy of Holies with זאת the gematriah of all three precious gifts from Hashem. We can also say that this is what the Anshei Keneses Hagadolah meant when referring to when we daven concerning Kerias Yam Suf, על זאת שבחו אהובים ורוממו אל ונתנו ידידים זמירות שירות ותשבחות . With the attainment of these three levels of תשובה תפלה וצדקה which is parallel to קול צום ממון , Am Yisrael praised You with song elevating You as their King.
Dovid Hamelech says in Tehilim 49,13 אדם ביקר לא יבין נמשל כבהמות נדמו we can explain the passuk as follows. Every individual possesses ביקר preciousness. His money which is precious as he can purchase with it what he desires must be also used for tzedaka and chesed. The power of teshuvah is precious for it goes before the כסא הכבוד the Throne of glory. The power of tefillah produces precious words even if we are not aware of their preciousness as Chazal say כרום זלת לבני אדם words of tefillah ascend high above כרום, even though Man looks at them as insignificant. If one fails to understand ביקר לא יבין these precious gifts that were given to him and which were demonstrated at Kerias Yam Suf and which nullified the prosecutions that were thrown at Yisrael during this time, then he is compared to an animal who also cannot appreciate such gifts. Kerias Yam Suf was the time of revelation of ביקר of all three precious gifts. That is why its acronym is ידידים רוממוך בשירה קדמוך from the Payit we mentioned above.
The word ביקר is twelve times the name of יהו' for each month parallels the name of Hashem with a different configuration and different vowels. This teaches us that every day throughout the year one must try to understand his three precious gifts that are given to us to use daily תשובה תפלה צדקה. Our youngsters must be instilled with these precious gifts as these three are the foundations of Jewish Life. In Cheder they still continue the Mesorah to teach the Aleph Beis with kamatz (the vowel) alephawe, Kamatz beis baw. The vowel before the letter and not the approach which seems more logical, the aleph with a kamatz is awe. The entire 27 letters of the Aleph Beis which is the entire structure of the Torah is built on the vowel קמץ which is the acronym of קול ממון צום which correspond to תפלה צדקה תשובה. Right at the beginning at a child's first learning the basics letters of Torah which is called עץ חיים the Tree of Life, he is immediately infused with the three foundations of preserving life. In reference to tzedaka Shlomo Hamelech says in MIshlei וצדקה תציל ממות. With the power of teshuvah giving life we see from Pesikta Rabasi
אמר ישעיה לפני הקודש ברוך הוא (אם) רצונך אפילו [אם] חוטא אדם לפניך אם יעשה תשובה (אתה) [שאתה] מוחל לו ויחיה ולא ימות מפני שאין לך שבח מן המתים
As as tefillah having the power of life the Talmud says Berachos 10
כך מקובלני מבית אבי אבא אפילו חרב חדה מונחת על צוארו של אדם אל ימנע עצמו מן הרחמים אתמר נמי רבי יוחנן ורבי (אליעזר) [אלעזר] דאמרי תרוייהו אפילו חרב חדה מונחת על צוארו של אדם אל ימנע עצמו מן הרחמים
Even if one is about to kill you and his sword is already touching your neck don't give up rather pray to Hashem for mercy.
All these three precious gifts sustain life for the purpose of living a Torah Life. Therefore it is appropriate to begin one's preparation for a Torah life with the vowel קמץ which symbolizes these three precious gifts from Hashem. In these times of upheaval and turmoil may we renew our dedication to these three gifts and use them in order to create peace in the world and the bringing of Moshiach.
- Rabbi Shmuel Brazil