This week’s Torah portion recounted the song that Moshe taught the Jews to sing, the warning to the ages that only complete faith and adherence to G-d gets a person through life intact.
The week’s Haftorah is also about a song, this song penned by King David. Both songs were written in the twilight days of the deaths of these great men. There are also some parallel descriptions of Hashem in both the Parsha and the Haftorah.
The Haftorah this week is from Sefer Shmuel (Samuel II, 22:1). It is a song that Dovid sang “on the day that Hashem saved him from the palm of all His enemies and the palm of Shaul.” In other words, it was the song of a completed mission. Not just one war was being celebrated. Rather, a lifetime of many miracles and many victories was being noted by Dovid. The words of this song are written in Tehillim, in Chapter 18.
Dovid said, “Hashem Salee Oo’metzoodasee..Hashem is my rock and fortress…”
You have to know your safe spots, friends. When you were little and playing a game of tag, oft-times, you knew that as part of the game, you set up “base”, a spot where you’d be safe. Life, in order to navigate, you have to know what is “base”, where you are safe. And a Jew must never forget that there is only one safe space, in that space we turn to G-d, that is our fortress, our city of refuge.
How bad was it for Dovid? He doesn’t gloss over how bad it was, in this week’s Haftorah. He knows he was almost dead[ 22:6]; he was at the “gates of the grave.”
Yet, at the moment of greatest danger, “I called to Hashem, cried out…”
“Yishma may’haychalo” – He heard. G-d hears the genuine call of the devout, hears the cries of the person of faith.
Dovid was being hounded. His father-in-law Shaul tried killing him. The nations around Israel hounded the Jewish nation, trying to rout them out of their homeland and inheritance. Dovid’s own sons rose up and tried to rebel. There was no rest for Dovid. Battle after battle. And, yet, his faith did not waver. He knew where “base” was still. He knew he had to cry out, for G-d is never too distant to hear the distress of the wronged. From lofty spheres, from Heavenly realms, G-d responds.
[22:8] “The foundations of Heavens shook, shaken by His indignation…” When someone who was wronged cries out from the pain of being wronged, those cries go reaching up beyond happenstance and natural occurrences. Not even Heaven stays quiet. G-d responds with awesome strength and “devouring fire.”
Dovid speaks of how Hashem had him picked up, drawn out from waters that threatened to sweep him away. It wasn’t that his foes were weak. In fact, Dovid acknowledges that some of his enemy were “too mighty” for him. Doeg, one of his pursuers, was head of Sanhedrin. Shaul was a disciple of Shmuel. We are not talking of small enemies. We are talking enemies of both physical prowess and spiritual giants, too.
Yet, Dovid did not despair when facing them. He just screamed out to G-d and got saved. Why? For, as King David says it, [22:20] “kee chafetz bee” because He wanted me…”Yigmalaynee Hashem ki’tzidkee- he did kindness for me like my righteousness. Dovid realized he had merits that made him be saved.
[22:22] “Kee shamartee darchay Hashem…for I safeguarded the ways of Hashem.” The merit that saved Dovid is that he didn’t budge from exactitude in Mitzvos. If the Halacha was this way, he’d stick to it. Nothing less would do for him. He made borders for himself so as not to sin.
Dovid notes to us how Hashem deals [22:26-28]. With the kind, Hashem deals kindly…with the pure, in purity. With the crooked-hearted, Hashem beats them at their own game of trickery.
Hashem illuminates man’s light, Hashem lights the darkness [22:29] – Dovid HaMelech continues to point out that clarity comes from G-d. With G-d on his side, Dovid can scale any obstacle. Hashem is the shield to anyone who trusts in Him.
Not just for the moment, but eternally, which is why our Haftorah ends off with Dovid being confident that G-d’s mercy and salvation will extend into the times of Moshiach, in the times when a descendant of Dovid will reign.
Dear Friends of Belz, we are wrapping up the past year. Going into the New Year, may we be blessed to realize Hashem is our fortress. So long as we deal in kindness and in purity, so long as we decide to make Torah our strategic life plan with no shortcuts, then, no matter what battle or storm wave rises up to greet us, just calling out to G-d in pain will get us saved. Not just one victory will be ours, but battle after battle, struggle after struggle, will be won in this manner.