On the seventh day after the exodus from Egypt, the Egyptian army pursued the Jews until they reached the Red Sea. G-d performed a great miracle and split the sea sparing them and drowning the Egyptians. The Seventh day of Pesach commemorates this miracle.
A few years ago, Rabbi Yaacov Schnaidman, dean of the Milton Eisner Yeshiva presented the following idea.
Each day of Pesach we recite the Hallel song/prayer that was composed by King David.
The Talmud relates that within the verses of Hallel there is a hint to five major events in the history of the Jews. They are: our exodus from Egypt, the splitting of the Red Sea, our acceptance of the Torah, the coming of Moshiach, and the resurrection of the dead.
In what way is the splitting of the Red Sea equal to the other major events?
When G-d extracted the Jews from Egypt they were considered as a newborn, without knowledge. Seven days later, during the splitting of the Red Sea, they were exposed to a very high degree of prophecy and at that point they attained Daas – knowledge. They were then elevated becoming similar to a Bar or Bas Mitzvah when a boy or girl attain a level of Bar Daas –having knowledge ― and considered an adult.
This level of knowledge that the Jews attained at the Sea was a prerequisite for their acceptance of the Torah. Without the experience of the splitting of the Red Sea they wouldn’t have been able to accept the Torah.
Why? Maimonides states that if man who is obligated to divorce his wife refuses to do so, the Jewish court may force him to divorce her and the divorce is valid. Although a divorce must be given willingly, when the Jewish court forces the husband to fulfill his obligation and divorce her it is considered given from his free will, since deep down, the heart of every Jew really wants to do the will of G-d, but his evil inclination stands in the way. Although he was forced, it was his evil inclination that is being forced not to stop him from doing what is right.
The Talmud tells us that at Mount Sinai – the truth of G-d’s existence was so real that it was as if G-d held a mountain over the Jews and said, “Either you accept the Torah, or you will all be buried here.”
The question raised is how was this a real acceptance? After all, it seems as if they were coerced into accepting the Torah?
This can be explained with Maimonides’ concept that the deep-rooted will of a Jew is to do the right thing even when he appears coerced. When the Jews stood at Mount Sinai, deep down, every Jew wanted to fulfill the will of Hashem, therefore, their acceptance was considered a true acceptance. This deep-rooted knowledge of G-d was acquired previously at the Red Sea. It was there that they attained the Daas – knowledge of G-d and the ability to accept G-d’s Torah ― even when it looked as if they were coerced.
The story of the Red Sea is so important because this experience and the Daas acquired there was a prerequisite for the Jews to accept the Torah.
The Talmud tells us that even a maidservant passing through the Red Sea saw more of a prophetic vision than the prophet Yechezkel.
Yechezkel is specifically highlighted because Yechezkel prophesied about the third and everlasting Temple which will be built in the future, at a time of great knowledge of G-d in the world.
Moshe led the Jews in song after the miracle at sea. This song speaks of G-d’s Temple and dwelling place. Rashi teaches us that it alludes to, and is a reference to the third Temple. The level of understanding the Jews received at the Sea was equal to that which Yechezkel prophesized. They expressed this in the song and concluded with “Hashem Yimloch L’Olam Vaed – G-d will be King for ever and ever.”
This firm knowledge of G-d is imbedded and is carried within each and every single Jew and can be stirred and accessed – at one’s liberty – through the study of Torah and observance of the Mitzvos!
A final thought: King David composed another Hallel called Hallel Hagodol (Psalm 131). We recite this each Shabbos and Holiday morning and at the Seder as well. Within its 26 stanzas that end with “His kindness endures forever and ever,” it states, “Who divided the Red Sea into parts.” Our Sages teach us that there were 12 separate pathways during the splitting of the sea, one for each of the tribes! King David further states, “You Shattered the Sea with Your Might” The Sfas Emes explains that not only was each tribe worthy of the miracle of the splitting of the sea, King David adds that there was a shattering – which means each and every person of Klal Yisroel was worthy of having the sea split for them! Rabbi Avrohom Schorr explains further that this means that when we are faced with spiritual challenges – as represented by fierce waters wanting to consume – we should bear in mind that G-d gives each of us our unique ability to overcome them and He will split and smash these damaging waters so that we can understand and appreciate G-d, His existence, goodness and kindness!