- The Nation's joy cannot be complete until the joy of women is complete
- Hashem values & is found with the small and humbled more than all the rest
Sometimes, I have enthusiastically quoted a Kli Yakar that I found personally inspiring or validating only to be shocked when the listener seemed unexpectedly appalled, making me feel like I just spoke lashon hara about an extremely holy person.
The following is the kind of heart-warming peirush that has led to one of those reactions. So I'm going to quote it, then explain.
The Difference between "Shir" and "Shira"
"And this is the blessing that Moshe blessed…." (33:1)
The Kli Yakar notes that the word "this" (zoht) is superfluous. The Torah could have just said, "Moshe, the man of God, blessed Bnei Yisrael, etc."
And "this" (zoht) is a feminine term because all the songs of This World are referred to in the feminine form [i.e. "shira" instead of "shir" – Shirat Devorah, Shirat Hayam, etc.] because they all contain tzaar.
And in the future, it will be in masculine form because males don't give birth.
He is not saying that in the World to Come, everyone will be male because males are better than females.
He is not saying that.
(This is what one person freaked out about. But actually making an effort to understand our Sages, rather leaping to culturally ingrained or low-self-worth-based assumptions, can prevent unnecessary freaking-out.)
What he is saying is that he is well aware of the stress that women experience due to their reproductive system. And he acknowledges this throughout his peirush on the Chumash.
Furthermore, as someone who has always experienced great tzaar (along with the great rewards – my children – that make it all worth it) from her reproductive system, I find it very validating that a huge Torah giant is aware and appreciative enough of this tzaar to mention it repeatedly. And that due to all Jews being spiritually bonded with each other, this means that no Jew can experience complete joy as long as Jewish women aren't experiencing complete joy.
This is his point.
Additionally, I also find it extremely reassuring to be reminded that I eventually won't have this tzaar. Due to the mixed readership, I won't go into detail, but for a lot of women, there are lingering issues that don't just vanish along with the mere act of giving birth.
Experiencing great tzaar in a mitzvah does not lessen its importance or reward (as if you're some kind of mitzvah-drudge). For example, at the opposite end of the spectrum, the work of ZAKA is almost entirely tzaar. But that does not detract in any way from their holy and vital function. It is a privilege to perform the duties of ZAKA and l'havdil, it is a privilege to birth holy neshamas into the world.
The Kli Yakar is saying that in the future all Jews, including women, will be able to experience complete joy that won't be marred by the tzaar inherent in monthly cycles, pregnancy, birth, and post-partum. (Which in the Kli Yakar's time, also held the very real possibility of maternal or infant death.)
The joy we express in This World isn't complete joy because it still contains a certain amount of tzaar - just like the joy of bringing a new soul into the world still contains a certain amount of tzaar.
And it's also implying that Hashem doesn't forget the ladies and their mesirut nefesh.
As long as women have tzaar from their reproductive system, Hashem calls the type of song mentioned in the Torah "shira." Until Jewish women can procreate without tzaar, no Jew can experience the complete joy inherent in the meaning of the word "shir."
Why Har Sinai?
"And he said, Hashem came from Sinai…." (33:2)
….those mountains have no connection with Yisrael; only Har Sinai does.
And Hashem descended upon it from the beginning.
So this teaches them [the Jews] that Hashem dwells with the most downtrodden….that not because of your great number did Hashem desire you above all the nations, but because you are small. Therefore, they [the Jews] are good for Torah and Torah is good for them. And thus it says, "Hashem came from Sinai." And it is really a great praise for Yisrael that they deserve to receive the blessings.
This is my own translation and any errors are also mine.