Parashat Beshalah: No Effort Goes Unrewarded
** This Week's Parasha Insight with Rabbi Eli Mansour Dedicated By Steven Levy & Chaby Orfali and Families In Loving Memory of Eliyahu Ben Sinbol **
The Haftara for Parashat Beshalah is the fifth chapter of the Book of Shoftim, which presents "Shirat Debora" – the famous song of praise sung by the prophetess Debora and the general, Barak, after Beneh Yisrael’s miraculous victory over the army of the Canaanite king Yabin. Parashat Beshalah tells of the miracle of the splitting of the sea and Beneh Yisrael’s song of praise which they sang after the miracle, and so appropriately, the Hafara is the song sung by Debora after the miraculous triumph over the Canaanites.
As part of her introduction to the song, Debora exclaims, "Anochi L’Hashem Anochi Ashira" – "I – to Hashem I shall sing" (5:3). Rashi cites a fascinating comment of the Midrash to explain why Debora here repeats the word "Anochi." There is a famous tradition that before the Torah was given at Sinai, two mountains in Eretz Yisrael – Carmel and Tabor – vied for the privilege of hosting the great event of Matan Torah. G-d, however, turned down their request in favor of Mount Sinai. G-d assured them, though, that He would reward them for their desire and quest to serve as the site when the Torah was given. Both mountains, later in history, became sites of a spectacular Kiddush Hashem (glorification of G-d’s Name). The prophet Eliyahu challenged the prophets of the pagan god Ba’al to a confrontation on Mount Carmel, where he offered a sacrifice, whereupon a heavenly fire descended and consumed the offering. This created a remarkable Kiddush Hashem, as the crowd of people who had gathered recognized G-d, bowed and proclaimed, "Hashem Hu Ha’Elokim" – "Hashem is the true G-d!" And Mount Tabor was the site of Beneh Yisrael’s miraculous victory over the Canaanites during the time of Debora, where G-d’s supernatural power became clear to one and all.
The word "Anochi" is repeated in Debora’s song, Rashi explains, to indicate that Tabor received twice the glory as Sinai. At the time of Matan Torah, the word "Anochi" was pronounced just once, in the proclamation, "Anochi Hashem Elokecha" ("I am Hashem your G-d"), but at Tabor, Debora pronounced "Anochi" twice – because despite its initial disappointment, Tabor ended up receiving twice the glory of Mount Sinai.
No effort to perform a Misva goes unrewarded. We should never hesitate to exert effort and attempt to do a Misva – big or small – because regardless of the outcome, we will be duly rewarded for the work we invest. Just like Mount Tabor and Mount Carmel, we will not always succeed in our endeavors, and we will, on occasion, experience disappointment. But we are assured that even if our efforts are unsuccessful, they are never fruitless and never in vain, because G-d cherishes and rewards us for all the work and effort that we invest.