Our forefather Yaacov’s entire family came down to Egypt to join Yosef, the viceroy of Egypt, and settled in the section of land called Goshen. This idyllic arrangement lasted for 94 years until Levi, the last of the tribal heads, passed away.
During this time the Jews proliferated and became very successful. The Pharoh became concerned that their success may lead them to rise up and conquest Egypt. In a clever and subtle way the Pharoh began subjecting the Jews to slavery. The first 30 years were bearable, but for the next 85 years the Jews were enslaved in a brutal way. When the Jews cried out to G-d, He listened and dispatched Moshe to lead the Jews out of Egypt. During the ensuing year, Pharoh and the Egyptians were walloped with ten plagues. There was a three week warning period before each plague and each miraculous plague lasted a week. The servitude of the Jews came to a halt during the plague period; however, they could not leave Egypt until they were redeemed by G-d.
On the 15th day of Nissan, when we begin to observe Passover, the Jews were miraculously freed from Egypt and began their journey towards the land of Israel. However, their feeling of elation for being freed was dashed when the Pharoh had a change of mind and began pursuing the Jews. The Jews began to panic because they were stuck between the Red Sea and the pursuing Egyptian army.
They asked Moshe, “Are there not enough graves in Egypt that we were taken to die in the desert?” They were totally puzzled with their situation, “G-d, during the ten plagues, displayed His power over every force in nature to enable their freedom, and now when they were finally freed, they were going to meet their demise? Did G-d perform all those miracles for naught?”
Moshe began to pray and G-d told him to just keep on leading the Jews in the path of the sea. The Jews listened and as they approached the sea’s banks the water miraculously split for them. They all crossed over safely while all the pursuing Egyptians drowned at the sea.
When the Jews experienced their salvation at the sea, they then realized that G-d sent the Egyptians after them in order for them to witness G-d’s many miracles to save them at the sea. The corpses of Pharoh and the last of the Egyptian army were also spat out so that the Jews would witness that there was no longer a threat.
Moshe immediately led the Jews in song to thank the Almighty for their salvation. This occurred on the seventh day after the Jews were freed from Egypt. The Torah commands us to observe the 7th (and 8th) days of Pesach as Holidays.
The Jews experience can be explained through the following illustration given by Rabbi Shrage Kalus.
There was a king who offered a huge prize for the one who would produce the finest work of art. The top artisans of the country got to work. As the work progressed, every so often, family members of the artisans would check in on the progress of their impressive designs.
There was something real puzzling about one of the artisan whose work appeared to be a random maze of material without any rhyme or reason. The family members wondered what he was thinking.
The day finally came when the king was to review the final designs and choose the winner. The king inspected each of the exquisite works of art and was extremely impressed. He then came to the art of last artisan who revealed his monstrosity! The King became infuriated with the man’s disrespect and contempt, but before the king was able to order his guards to arrest the artisan, he had turned his display around, and there stood the most magnificent piece of work. The web and mesh of materials was the back support system for the creation. The king was taken by his unparalleled creation and awarded him the prize.
Similarly, when the Jews were trapped between the sea and the Egyptian army, all they saw was an ugly labyrinth of certain disaster. However, G-d then told Moshe to proceed forward to the sea and when the Jews followed, placing their trust in the Almighty’s Power, G-d caused the sea to split along with many miracles. G-d, so to speak, switched the tangled maze into the most magnificent display of love towards them.
This message can be applied to any challenging life experience. When encountering a difficult occurrence or situation, we should consider that we only have a limited view and perspective of what is at hand. Our trust and belief in G-d and His plan is essential.
We can bring to mind how the Jews at sea were against all odds, yet when they placed their trust in the Almighty’s Power, they became exposed to an unforeseen and unanticipated miraculous turnaround in their fate.
G-d Holds on to and clearly Directs those who hold on to Him!