time to sing

(Dvar Torah on Last Days of Pesach 5776) Time to Sing!

When reading the Hagadah we come upon a fascinating, yet often
overlooked, paragraph, which discusses the magnitude of the miracles
G-d performed at the splitting of the Red Sea. One opinion states that
there were 250 plagues wrought against the pursuing Egyptians at the sea!

There was obviously something spectacular that occurred at the sea and thus the Jews erupted into a prophetic song after crossing the sea safely and seeing the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. This event occurred on the day we observe and celebrate – the seventh/eighth days of Pesach.

There are those who wish to disassociate the Hand of G-d from the splitting of the Sea claiming that a tsunami or high winds caused it to split.

Although the Torah states that there were winds blowing the entire night before the splitting of the sea, G-d only did that in order to give the appearance that something natural was happening, because G-d wishes to minimize an outward show of His miracles. He also offers room for those who wish to doubt Him to exercise their skepticism and cynicism.

However, there were major features of the splitting of the sea that are impossible to rationalize as natural causes. For example, it would have been very difficult for the approximately 2.5 million Jews with their animals and many possessions to travel through the sea if had split as a result of high winds.

As part of the Hallel – praise of the Seder we quote King David’s Psalms wherein he states, “G-d split the sea into channels.” The sea was not only split into a single thoroughfare, it was divided into twelve rows each separated by standing columns of water.

Furthermore, our Sages explain that the layout of land where the Jews entered the water and exited was actually on the same side; meaning that the Jews traveled through the split sea in a semicircle. Obviously, no natural phenomenon could cause such an occurrence.

Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin o.b.m. points out that based on the verses describing the event, the Jews stood and traveled on the dry sea for two-thirds of the depth of the sea became solidified and comfortable to walk upon while the upper third of the water split and stood erect. As the Egyptians entered the sea behind the Jews, the waters came crashing down upon them. The miraculous split for the Jews and the natural order of the waters falling on the Egyptians by the gravitational pull happened simultaneously.

Within the song that Moshe and the Jews sang, it describes that each Egyptian taskmaster drowned in a fashion commensurate with how he treated the Jews while they were slaves. Those who were harsher in their treatment suffered most.

Interestingly, all the drowned Egyptians’ remains and possessions were ejected from the sea onto the shore so that the Jews could be certain that the Egyptian threat was gone.

The Jews collected all the wealth of the Egyptians and the Egyptians were buried. Why did they merit burial? Our Sages tell us after the seventh plague of fire mixed with hail the Pharoh finally caved in to recognizing G-d. He called for Moshe to stop the plague, and proclaimed, “G-d is righteous, and I and my nation are wicked.”

Although this sentiment was short lived for Pharoh reneged after the plague stopped, nonetheless, Pharoh and the Egyptians were rewarded for this recognition and they merited burial in the ground.
The Torah relates that the Jews became very fearful when the Egyptians pursued them. This fear was not only from the 600 Egyptians, rather the evil Sar – angelic officer – of Egypt appeared to the Jews and made them petrified.

The Torah relates that the Jews saw the ‘Egyptian’ die at the river bank. The singular form is used to indicate that the Jews witnessed the angel of Egypt die at the sea bank, for an angel cannot be drowned in water.

The Torah testifies that the Jews believed in G-d and in His servant Moshe. The reason why the Torah tells us they believed in Moshe as well as G-d, is because when one believes, reveres, and respects the words of our faithful sages and teachers they automatically gain a sense of belief in G-d!

Wishing you a most enjoyable and
uplifting Pesach!
Rabbi Dovid and Malki Saks & Family