One of the most miraculous displays that G-d performed for His people was the splitting of the Red Sea. Two million people crossed the dry and level seabed, and there were 12 pathways, each divided by an erect wall of water.
Our Sages tell us that during this miraculous experience even the simplest of people achieved prophetic revelation. In the Hagaddah, we recite that there were many more wonders and miracles at the splitting of the sea than during the ten plagues. In fact, our Sages disagree if there were 50, 200 or 250 different miracles.
After all the Jews had crossed over safely, G-d instructed Moshe to raise his hand over the sea and the walls of water came crashing down upon the Egyptians, wiping out Pharoh’s army. This brought the end to the Egyptian saga.
Although the bonds of physical servitude to the Egyptians came to an end, G-d commanded us that its memory always remain with us. We make reference to the exodus each time we recite the Shema and also within our prayers. We recall the miracles at the sea just before the Amida in the morning and night prayers.
At the end of the segment of the morning prayers called, “Pesukei D’zimrah – Verses of Praise,” we recite the Biblical song of Az Yashir – which Moshe sang together with the Jewish people after their miraculous rescue from the sea.
The Talmud tells us that the singing of the song by the Jews was miraculous. They each repeated the words and verses of Moshe. This was accomplished by a man who had a speech impediment, yet his voice was broadcast to the millions of Jews!
Interestingly, within the prophetic song, there is only one verse that hints of the Jews being saved at the sea.
The crux of the song is how G-d punished each of the Egyptians commensurate to their mistreatment of the Jews. The Jews witnessed this and realized that aside from G-d’s powers of punishing the Egyptians and rewarding the Jews as a nation, they saw that G-d took into account the actions of each individual as well.
Their level of trust and belief in G-d went to an even higher level.
Reciting the miracles at the sea several times a day reminds us to inculcate this belief within ourselves.
Truth be told, it is no more difficult for G-d to do miracles than to do what we consider the natural order of the world’s design. In our prayers we recite blessings to G-d on the ‘natural’ functions of the sun, moon and the constellations, so that they do not become ‘natural’ to us. When our ancestors witnessed the supernatural at sea, it was a “Wow!” moment. By reminding ourselves of it daily, we keep that “Wow!” moment alive.
In the Hallel prayer we recite on holidays, King David declares, “The sea saw and it ran.” The Medrash asks, what did the Red Sea see that made it split? One answer is that it saw the gold and silver that the Jews had borrowed from the Egyptians.
The Shevet Sofer explains: the Jews were quite aware of how money hungry their Egyptian taskmasters were and how hard they slaved for them to amass such wealth.
Right before the Jews left Egypt, the Jews were instructed by G-d through Moshe to borrow silver and gold from the Egyptians. Their gut feeling was not to do so because it would give the Egyptians a reason to pursue them after they left.
They did so only because they trusted G-d’s instructions, which overrode their own feelings.
The angel of the sea wasn’t too eager to go against its nature and split its waters for the Jews. However when it saw the riches the Jews were transporting, and as they had feared the Egyptians were in hot pursuit of the Jews, the angel recognized that the Jews went against their natural instincts and placed their trust in G-d’s instruction. The angel therefore said, “I will also go against my nature and split my waters for the Jews!”