In the previous post I spoke about the necessity for an “11th plague” to be inflicted upon the Egyptians – the parting of the Red Sea; in order to show the world who the people of Israel really are. And this was proved, just after the miracle, by the people’s spontaneous bursting into that perfect praise to Hashem song, called Shirat Hayam (The Song of the Sea). Spontaneity here, was the chief element, in showing the greatness of our people.
But now a slightly Lamdani (Talmudic-Yeshiva) question arises here:
We know that
גדול המצווה ועושה מהלא מצווה ועושה
He who does a deed when commanded by G-d, is greater than he who does it of his own accord
The explanation given is that when a person is commanded, then it is that the Evil Urge, the Yetzer Harah, awakens to try and withhold him from doing the Mitzvah. Whereas when the act comes through his own initiative, the urge stays dormant. And as payment for a difficult task is greater than for an easy one, so greater is the person who acts fulfilling a command. So it seems that own-intiatives, and spontaneous actions, are not so valued in Judaism.
So there’s the rub: Spontaneous praises on the shores of the Red Sea are not such a big deal…
But that, of course, is false, too.
Because our sages tell us that Hametz, leavened food, is a symbol of the Evil Urge. And on Pessach, we’ve practically abolished all trace of Hametz in our lives – at least up until the seventh day of Pesach. So the whole week we are now, and we were then, actually immune to the Evil Urge; so the struggle against it in the act of praising on the Sea in those days was quite irrelevant, and spontaneity could have served indeed as an advantage in this case, in comparison with an obligated action.