Congregation Ohave Shalom - Young Israel of Pawtucket

Haggadah: Splitting the Sea

by: Caren Torczyner

The Torah tells us, "And Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. And Israel saw the great hand that HaShem inflicted upon Egypt, and the people feared HaShem, and they had faith in HaShem and in Moshe, His servant."

Rav Zalman Sorotzkin points out that there were two levels of miracles at the Yam Suf. One level was the obvious show-stopping extravaganza - the waters split and formed two solid walls, while the Jews walked through on dry land. The second level was the sea's return to its natural state, just as the Egyptians attempted to follow through.

This second stage is a miracle "in the pattern of nature," and such a miracle is harder to appreciate. There is nothing supernatural about the forces that cause the waves to come crashing down. The Jews at the sea were able to percieve this second layer of miracles, to understand that Gd acting within nature was just as great a salvation.

Ramban explains that the large, traditional miracles, are banners that Gd waves to show the world that He runs it, with constant attention. Once we recognize that Gd has constant and total control, it follows that the natural course of events is a series of hidden miracles that Gd performs on a daily basis.

Pesach is a time of open miracles - the ten plagues, the splitting of the Yam Suf, the pillar of cloud that led the nation by day, and the pillar of fire that led them at night. The many Mitzvos that recall these miracles each day - Tefillin, Mezuzah, Shema - function as continual reminders of Gd's power and providence in running the world.

Rav Sorotzkin explains that while other nations build monuments to commemorate great national events, the Mitzvos serve as our testimony, as a portable memorial that we carry with us even in our exile. The Haggadah goes to great pains to emphasize that the story of the exodus is only told when Matzah and Maror are before us. When we pass the story of the great miracles on to our children, these Mitzvos serve as witnesses to the power that Gd displayed in Egypt, and they attest to the fact that the chain of previous generations, linking to our own generation, has joined in this recognition.

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