The Gemara says that the deeds of Yael and Devora were greater than the women of the tent, the Imahot. Every woman wants a husband who will provide, so she can build with what he gives. Avraham had everything Sarah wanted on a spiritual level. Yitzchak was far more than Rivka ever dreamed of. Yaakov was an ish tam (a perfect person). He was so far removed from everything Lavan represented, that Rachel and Leah wanted nothing more than to take what he provided and build the Jewish people. Although the lives of the Imahot weren’t easy, they were only called upon to work within their natures.
Devora and Yael had to contend with far more. Barak demanded that Devora provide him with merit and leadership, something every woman wants from her husband. Yael desired to be a nurturer but ended up having to be a killer. They had to act against their natures as wives and mothers and they did so l’shem shamayim because they saw a picture that was bigger than their individual selves. Sometimes the role a woman thought she would have is not the role Hashem provides her, because he is giving her something greater, not necessarily more comfortable or easier, but more elevated.
All the songs in Tanach are holy. One of the most exalted among them is Shirat Devora. A melody can be sung with harmony. This aspect of song reflects the confluence of life events. All the pieces fit together, which in turn evokes song.
Devora sang, “When vengeance is afflicted upon Israel they dedicate themselves to Hashem.” Precisely when circumstances are at the worst, the Jewish people give themselves up to G-d. In times of great suffering, a person’s true nobility can shine forth. This is true for the Jewish people throughout history.
When Hashem gave the Torah, all nature stopped in its tracks. Matan Torah showed us that the outer and inner realities of all physical things have one master, Hashem. He had to stop nature in its tracks so we could see that it was a mode of Hashem‘s expression, not something with inherent power of its own. Hashem‘s miraculous interventions throughout history all have one beginning point, Matan Torah.
Devora affirms that without the merit of Torah they could not have succeeded in battle. Often, Torah scholars are viewed as lazy, taking the easy way out. On the surface it seems correct but it is not true. Hashem puts us in the world to fight evil. The source of wickedness is in the human heart. The only way to be victorious is to develop a people who have such inherent capacity to be a living example of goodness that they draw down Hashem‘s protection.
If military success is dependent on Hashem‘s help, what was the role of the soldiers? The merit of their mesirut nefesh (self-sacrifice) drew blessing from heaven. And the people learning Torah brought merit too. Whatever one’s purpose is in being moser nefesh for Klal Yisrael, even if one is not a soldier or Torah scholar, one must do it with all his strength.
Devora ends her shira with, “V’ohavei Hashem kzait hashemesh b’gevurato.” (Those who love Hashem are as powerful as the sun in its full strength.) This refers to the farmers in Israel who keep shemitta. Letting go of earning a living for two years requires tremendous faith.
It also refers to a person who is insulted and does not respond. There are people who are above insults. They think, “If this person is right, I’ll fix it. If not, it doesn’t matter. ” But most people are not at that level. When someone says something negative about us, it cuts to the core, it diminishes our Divine image. When a person accepts such complete humiliation with equanimity, he is saying, “Hashem, I’ll serve you with my heart, soul, and all my possessions. And if I’m imperfect like this person thinks I am, I’ll serve you even more from my place of imperfection with love and perfect faith.”