Designer Walls!

One of the greatest miracles in history was that G-d split the Red Sea for the Jewish people to allow them to pass through safely. The sea then drowned the remnant of the Egyptian army.

The Torah relates that after this colossal event our leader Moshe led the Jews in a song of thanks to the Almighty. The song begins, Az Yashir, and is filled with prophetic references.

The waters miraculously formed two upright walls and they are twice referred to in the Song. The Hebrew word for wall is Chomah. Our Sages point out that in one verse the word Chomah is spelled in the complete form, while the second time it is mentioned, the word Chomah is missing the letter Vuv.

The abridged spelling forms the word Chaimah – anger. Our Sages derive from this that there was an underlying anger involved.

Anger! What anger could G-d have had towards the Jews during this great miracle?

Our Sages explain that, believe it or not, there was a Jew, by the name of Micha, passing through the waters who had stolen something that he intended to use for idolatrous purposes.

What did Micha have? The Torah relates that before Yosef died he made his descendants swear that at the time of their redemption from Egypt they would take his remains along for re-internment in the land of Israel.

The Egyptians were aware of this and therefore they placed Yosef in a coffin and lowered it into the depths of the Nile River so that the Jews would never locate it. When the time of redemption came, Moshe went to the Nile and called out to Yosef, “We are ready to leave. Please arise and come with us.” When nothing happened, Moshe took a shard of clay and wrote one of the Names of G-d along with the words, “Alai Shor ― Arise Bull.” He called Yosef a bull because Yaacov had referred to Yosef as having the beauty of a bull. Moshe dropped the shard into the water and Yosef’s coffin arose. The Jews took his remains with them throughout their journey and when they entered Israel they buried Yosef in the City of Shechem.

Micha had been watching Moshe during this incident and he retrieved the miraculous shard that Moshe had thrown into the Nile. Micha intended to use it as an idol and it was called Pesel Micha – the idol of Micha. In fact, Micha used this shard to create the golden calf. Micha threw it into the fire and because it said, “rise bull”, the golden calf emerged.

Of all the 2.5 million Jews who passed through the Red Sea, only Micha had idolatry on his mind.

So what’s up with Micha? Our great commentator Rashi quotes a Medrash that explains. When Moshe was dispatched by G-d to lead the Jews out of Egypt he spoke to the Pharoh about releasing them. The Torah tells us that Pharoh intensified their workload and now required the Jews to make their own cement while still demanding the same quota of production.

Moshe was frustrated that his efforts backfired, and he noticed that, in desperation, the Jews were using stillborn fetuses in the mortar mix. Moshe complained to G-d, “Why are You making it worse for the Jews?” He also complained about the stillborn fetuses in the walls. G-d told Moshe, “I know that only wickedness will emerge from those fetuses. But if you wish to test Me, take one out. Moshe did, and that fetus was Micha.

So if Micha angered G-d, what saved the Jews from G-d’s wrath? The verse continues and states, the walls of water, “were on their right and left.” Our Sages explain that the ‘right and left’ allude to merits of the Jews. The ‘right’ is a reference to the Torah that they will receive, and the ‘left’ refers to the Mitzvah of Tefilin that Jews put on their left hand. Because they eventually accepted and observed the Torah and the Mitzvah of Tefilin, the nation was saved.

A verse in the Song begins, Mi Chamocha – who is like You, and the verse again repeats, Mi Kamocha – who is like You. The two words are pronounced slightly different but are spelled the same except that the first Chof does not have a dot in it while the second one does. Grammatically, both words should be read Chomocha; why is the second pronounced Kamocha?

Our Sages explain that G-d’s name is mentioned right before the second time Mi Kamocha is stated. If the verse would say Hashem MiChamocha it might sound like one said, Hashem is Micha-mocha, mentioning Hashem together with Micha. Moshe therefore pronounced it as Mi-Kamocha so that no one would connect Hashem with the idolatrous Micha. This is the sensitivity of Moshe during the song he sang heralding G-d for granting the nation total salvation from the Pharoh and the Egyptians.

Right after the Jews left the shores of the Red Sea, they traveled three days and did not have any water. They began complaining to Moshe about their predicament and G-d granted them sweet water in a miraculous way. In the next stop on their travels, they came to an oasis with 12 springs of water and 70 palm trees. The Chofetz Chaim points out, that had the Jews been patient and placed their trust in G-d, they would have arrived at the location where G-d had stored enough to provide for their hydration.

“Instead of complaints, patience and trust in G-d through prayer and hope, is our approach. This draws us closer to the possibilities and blessings that G-d has in store!”