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The Crown of Halacha

Pesach 5776 – Kriyas Yam Suf

Kriyas Yam Suf

“Hashem saved, on that day, Yisrael from the hand of Egypt, and Yisrael saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Yisrael saw the great hand that Hashem inflicted upon Egypt and the people feared Hashem, and they had faith in Hashem and Moshe, His servant.” (Shmos 14:3031)

The Bais Halevi, in his commentary on the Haggada, brings a Midrash which says, “Until this moment Bnai Yisrael did not fear Hashem. From here and on they feared Hashem…” It is perplexing that until now, even after seeing all the punishments inflicted on the Egyptians, the Jews did not fear Hashem.

Furthermore, after seeing Hashem perform many miracles and wonders associated with the makos (plagues) why didn’t we believe in Hashem and Moshe while we were in Egypt? Why were the miracles at Kriyas Yam Suf different from all the miracles that happened in the land of Egypt?

One answer often given is that Bnai Yisrael did not truly believe they were free until they actually saw the Egyptians washed up on the shore. When they saw this, they believed in Hashem and His servant Moshe.

The Bais Halevi suggests another possible answer. There is a stark contrast between the miracles in Egypt and the miracles at Yam Suf. In Egypt, the miracles happened to the Egyptians. Their water turned to blood, their land was filled with frogs, their dust turned to lice, etc. Yet, all the while, Bnai Yisrael led a peaceful and natural existence. It was natural that their water remained water, no frogs invaded their land, their dust did not turn to lice, etc. Life for the Jew went on quite normally.

At Kriyas Yam Suf the opposite occurred. Miracles began happening to Bnai Yisrael. The Yam split into a wide path for every shevet (tribe). The muddy floor became hard and flat. All varieties of fruit trees appeared for the hungry and fresh water spouted from the walls to quench their thirst.

This was the turning point for Bnai Yisrael because up until then, the Jews had not personally experienced a miracle. At the splitting of the sea, every single Jew was escorted by Hashem and only after the last Jew was safely across, did the sea resume its natural state and drown the Egyptians.

Therefore, Hashem made a special chag called Shviie Shel Pesach. On the first day of Pesach, we celebrated our redemption as a nation. Now, on the seventh day of Pesach, we celebrate Krias Yam Suf, our own personal redemption.


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