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Splitting Your Own Sea

Friday, 29 January, 2016 - 3:34 pm


splitting_the_red_sea2.jpgObstacles, challenges and rough surf are part of the dynamic of our lives in this world. 

We can’t necessarily prevent the blocks from coming or being there, but do we allow them to stop us and slow us down or are they the catalyst for growth and great accomplishments? 

3300 years ago, the Jews were just seven days out of the Egyptian Slavery and they suddenly find themselves surrounded on all sides with nowhere to escape the wrath of the Egyptian Army. With huge cliffs on two sides of them, a raging ocean on one side and the powerful Egyptian army bearing down on them on the last remaining side, hope for salvation was not even an abstract theory.

The Jews debated their options, some argued to go down fighting, some argued to pray for help, some argued for surrender, and some argued for mass suicide rather than falling into the hands of the Egyptian army. The end seemed near and it was approaching mighty fast!

Suddenly a command comes over the radio and Moses is told by G-d, “Tell them to keep moving forward”! “Charge straight ahead at the wall of water”!.... Over and out…..

The Midrash describes a scene in which the Jews cannot digest the news and are literally frozen in fear in their places. A brave man named Nachshon begins to wade into the water as the nation watched with baited breath. More and more of Nachshon’s body became covered in water as he walked deeper and deeper into the water. The water reached his knees, his waistline, then his chest and nothing was changing with the surging water. The faith of the Jews wobbled and waned with each wave that seemed to cover Nachshon with a few more inches of water and the hopes of salvation seemed to be a dream that wasn’t going to materialize. 

Breaking Point

Suddenly the water reaches Nachshon’s neck, it is the make it or break it point of Nachshon and the entire Jewish people who are watching. Will he cave and come back to the shore, or will he brave it out and keep moving forward? Seconds that seemed like an eternity pass, and then in a dramatic move, Nachshon lurches forward deeper into the sea.

It was at this pivotal moment when the spiritual mindset of the Jewish people had been pushed to its very limit, when the waters seemed to be immovable and hope seemed lost, when the waters suddenly separate with a mighty roar and the Jews swarm forward to safety. 

Splitting the Personal Sea

Besides remembering the exodus from Egypt on a daily basis, it is also part of the Jewish tradition to remember the splitting of the sea each day.

The obstacles we face may be different than a sea of water and an Egyptian army, but a similar dynamic constantly plays itself out in the personal mental, emotional and spiritual challenges that we experience in the journey of life. It is often easy to cave and it may seem easier to surrender to the challenges, sometimes we may feel like fighting and getting caught up in the details of the challenge, and sometimes we feel like there is no hope other than to pray.

Yet the message of the splitting of the sea in this week’s Torah portion is to “keep moving forward”. We need to believe in our purpose and mission, we need to arm ourselves with the spiritual nutrition of our Judaism, and we need to know how to confidently move forward and overcome the hurdles despite the challenges and difficulties. Sometimes it may feel like we are at the crux of the challenge and hardship, but it is often then, when the few more inches of pushing forward and extra push and exertion will make the pivotal difference and breakthrough.

Appreciating and valuing our freedom, is one critical element of our history. Splitting the sea of our personal and communal obstacles is another perhaps more difficult element, but one that holds the potential for the exponential growth of the future. 

Shabbat Shalom 


P.S Candle Lighting in Sudbury today is at 4:28pm


Rabbi Freeman


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