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It's All in the Details

Thursday, 9 April, 2015 - 2:00 pm

Most of us who are not Torah buffs are nonetheless familiar with the Splitting of the Sea. The Jews walked on dry land and the Egyptian army drowned.

We celebrate this ‘complete freedom’ on the final days of Pesach. It was on the 21st of Nissan – the seventh day of Passover – when this miracle occurred.  But it’s not just on Pesach that we remember the Splitting of the Sea. In fact, a significant part of our daily prayers talks about the Splitting of the Sea. On Shabbat and Festivals we add additional prayers about the Splitting of the Sea.

Why is this miracle so central in Jewish tradition? Is it simply because it was the final nail in the coffin on our oppressors?

I believe not.  If it were simply about being free then the abounding praises in the Torah and our prayers would center on our newfound liberty. But, largely, they do not. The verses sing the praise of G-d’s miracles at the Sea versus the resulting freedom.

The Sages of the Talmud exclaim that even the lowliest of Jews saw at the crossing of the sea what even the greatest of prophets was not privileged to see. Again, the emphasis is on the event, not the outcome.

What was so special about this miracle in particular?

To better understand this, let’s look at the miracles that occurred prior to the departure from Egypt, the Ten Plagues (which do not appear much in Jewish liturgy).

In Egypt the miraculous plagues befell the oppressors of the Jews. They suffered at the hands of supernatural events, while for the Jews nature was par for the course.

At the sea, this was reversed. The Jews were privy to supernatural phenomena while nature took its course as the walls of water came crashing down on the Egyptians.

Taken together, this demonstrates the absolute sovereignty of G-d. The Greek philosophers argued that G-d does not busy Himself with the details of what happens here on earth. He only deals with heavenly affairs. But Judaism rejects that notion and asserts that G-d is involved with every detail on earth. His Providence extends to all. What we do matters to Him.

This is demonstrated by the particular care that He showed the Jewish people at the Splitting of the Sea.

Perhaps it was to remind ourselves how involved G-d is in our daily lives that the Sages incorporated this story into our daily and special prayers.

Nowadays, it isn’t quite so obvious that G-d is with us at every moment, at every turn. However, when Moshiach comes, this will become apparent.  The entire world will visibly sense the presence of Hashem.

As we enter the final days of Pesach, let us look to the future – to a redemption from exiles of all types; to a redemption from personal and global suffering, both physical and spiritual.  The last days of Pesach are about looking to the future.

May it happen immediately.

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