Sunday, April 04, 2010

Pesach 5632 Seventh Day Second Ma'amar

On the seventh day of Pesach God split the sea to miraculously save the nation of Israel from the clutches of the Egyptian army.  We walked to the other side on the dry seabed and the entire Egyptian army drowned.

The splitting of the sea is considered to be one of the greatest miracles recorded in the Torah.  Chazal[1], though, relate that rivers split for individuals such as Rebbi Pinchas ben Ya’ir.  Why then is the splitting of the sea for the nation as we fled the Egyptians commemorated each year as the greatest of miracles?  It seems to have been not altogether rare during the time of the Tannaim.

To answer this question we need to understand the make up of the nation that crossed the sea.  Chazal[2] tell us that the nation comprised four distinct groups.  Only one group considered crossing the sea an option.  One group maintained that they should return to Egypt.  Another group was of the opinion that they should stand their ground and do battle with the Egyptians.  Yet a fourth group said that they should cry out to God.

The greatness of the miracle was not that the sea split.  Surely it is not difficult for God to split the sea for those who deserve it.  The greatness of the miracle and the reason we commemorate it each year is because the sea split even for those who showed a lack of faith and complained to Moshe, “... הֲמִבְּלִי אֵין־קְבָרִים בְּמִצְרַיִם לְקַחְתָּנוּ לָמוּת בַּמִדְבָּר .../Is it for the lack graves in Egypt that you took us to die in the desert?” (Shmos 14:11)

Those who identified with and subordinated themselves to the nation were raised up from a level of impurity to a level of purity and saved even though they would not have been saved on their own merit.  Moshe Rabbeinu told them, “ה' יִלָּחֵם לָכֶם וְאַתֶּם תַּחֲרִשׁוּן/God will fight for you and you will be silent.” (Shmos 14:14)  Moshe Rabbeinu is giving the complainers good advice.  He told them that if they just stop complaining, if they are silent, they will be saved simply because they are part of the nation.

Practical Application

Many people, knowing their own faults and frailties, wonder in what merit will they be saved at the time of the ultimate redemption.  The Sfas Emes teaches that identifying with the nation of Israel, feeling a part of the nation, being a part of the nation, is an extremely powerful tool that we can use to merit participating in the redemption even if we do not necessarily deserve it on our own merit.

[1] Chulin 7a
[2] Mechilta Beshalach Masechta deVaYehi Parsha 2


Anonymous said...

You mentioned that you would be able to get copies of Kerem Yehoshua. How could I contact you to do that? Thanks

Moshe David Tokayer said...

Send an email to mdtokayer (at) gmail (dot) com with your contact info including where you are located.