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Friday, April 25

The Weekly Shtikle - Shevi'i shel Pesach

    On the seventh day of Pesach, we commemorate the great miracles that HaShem performed at Yam Suf. Although the festival of Pesach in general seems more centered around the actual exodus which occurred six days prior, the splitting of the sea is the center of attention as Pesach draws to a close. As we relive this momentous time in our history, a few fundamental questions come to mind. How does Keriyas Yam Suf fit into the grand scheme of Yetzias Mitzrayim? Why was it necessary? Why couldn't B'nei Yisroel simply have left Mitzrayim, never to hear from those wretched Egyptians again?
    One thing seems relatively certain: B'nei Yisroel did not need the Egyptian army to be decimated in order for their freedom to be complete. It would seem, therefore, that the main purpose of  Keriyas Yam Suf was not as much the saving of the Jews as it was the destruction of the Egyptians. And surely there is a lesson we must take from it as well.
    To delve further into the matter, we need to rewind to the very beginning of Sefer Shemos. Rashi (1:10) explains the strategy behind Paroah's master plan. He was aware that HaShem had sworn never to bring destruction through water again. By orchestrating his semi-genocide through water, Paroah believed he was handcuffing the Almighty, so to speak, into being unable to exact revenge. This is a very extreme level of blasphemy - perhaps even worse than the denial of HaShem's existence - the recognition of HaShem and the assertion of some degree of inferiority.
    Perhaps the 10 plagues were a direct punishment for the enslavement and treatment of B'nei Yisroel. The crimes committed against man were accounted for. However, the crimes against God had heretofore gone unpunished. Keriyas Yam Suf and the subsequent demise of a significant contingent of the Egyptian nation therefore represents the Divine retribution meted out against the Egyptians coming full circle. At the same time, it teaches us a very valuable lesson. We are constantly given little hints as to HaShem's ways and how He runs the world. But we must realize that these are nothing more than hints and what lies beneath is a design far too complex for human understanding. We find a similar theme in the story of Purim  (see Megillah 11b regarding Belshatzar and Achashveirosh's erroneous calculations as to the supposed end of the Babylonian exile) and now we find it again in the story of Pesach. These lessons and ideas provide insight into how the events at Yam Suf fit into the story of Yetzias Mitzrayim and as well, our observance of the Chag of Pesach.
Have a good Shabbos and Chag Samei'ach!
Eliezer Bulka


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