The parshah this week is Beshallach. We are at the point in the story where Pharaoh and his army have pursued Am Yisrael after witnessing them having broken the boundaries of physical, emotional and spiritual enslavement. At a deeper level, our nation has undergone a process, a journey from Mitzrayim (Egypt) to Eretz Yisrael. In addition to the physical journey there was their spiritual flight from crippling imprisonment to complete fulfillment on the outstretched wings of natural Jewish behavior. This is the process of bursting from a stifling environment to one where a Jew can function as only he can and in complete freedom.
As Pharaoh and his army tracked after Am Yisrael, HaShem told Moshe that He would split the Sea of Reeds in order that the Egyptians should know that He is Havayah.
This, as we will see, appears an extraordinary reason. Of the various Names for G-d there are two which are most commonly used in Torah and each connote totally different levels of revelation. The first is the level of G-d's concealment in and by the Curtain of nature. The description for this is the name "Elokim". The second is the level of G-dliness which is above and beyond nature, the name "Havayah" spelt in Hebrew, Yud-Hay-Vov-Hay.
It is the purpose of non-Jewish humanity to study the Curtain of nature and so to dominate and develop it. The nations' connection with HaShem is with Him at the level named Elokim as they relate to, and develop, the natural environment. The more the strands and texture of the curtain are studied, the more is advanced science and technology for the betterment of all mankind.
The task of Am Yisrael is entirely different. Our job has to do with That Which is behind the Curtain, the manifestation of G-d at the level of the name Havayah.
When Moshe came to Pharaoh in the previous Sedras and reported that Havayah told him to take His people out of bondage, Pharaoh asked Moshe, "Who is Havayah?" Pharaoh was being entirely truthful expressing that he did not know that which was the name Havayah. It was simply not one of the stations on his television set and so he was unable to tune into this channel. He was being completely sincere; he had never heard of, (experienced), Havayah.
Moshe was equally truthful when reporting his dialogue with G-d in His manifestation above and beyond, nature.
Let us take an example of each man's perspective.
We know that through all the ten plagues, Pharaoh was confronted with the same miraculous evidence as was Moshe; yet he was completely unmoved by it.
More recently, when the thirty-nine Scud Missiles penetrated Israel, in accordance with the Rebbe's predictions not one person died as a direct result, a staggering mathematical improbability. Jews saw this as an open miracle. Within a short time of the miracle becoming manifest, the world press began to graft "reasons" explaining the result by reference to natural causes; insufficient knowledge by the Arabs, insufficient technology of the Arabs, damage to the missiles caused through being bunkered in sand... Moreover, this need to relate the event to natural causes is totally understandable given a perspective bounded by a rational reference to nature.
When on the other hand, G-d appeared to Moshe at the flaming bush a fascinating revelation of Jewish emunah (faith) is revealed. In order to arm him with a sign, HaShem told Moshe to throw down his stick. Moshe obeyed and to his horror, watched as his stick became a writhing snake; G-d then told Moshe to pick up the snake by the tail and it once again became a stick.
By the tail! There is no argument from Moshe. No question, "G-d, the head is the dangerous part; what if I pick it up by the back of the head?" Yet, without a murmur, without a second thought, Moshe immediately lifted the snake by the tail. Why? Moshe's connection is to Havayah where nature is suspended.
The Rebbe explains that there is a mitzrayim, a state of bondage, in every Jew, in every time and in every place. We learn that "in every generation a man is obligated to see himself as if he had just left Mitzrayim." This posuk applies to us daily and the obligation is focused in the morning prayers. We try to visualize, in a way that relates to our own being, the process of bursting out of each day's bondage. This concept is not only something which a man is obligated to understand on a daily basis, it is a concept that a Jew experiences at a spiritual level, daily. This experience as we will see includes the crossing of the Sea on dry land.
The Talmud explains that everything that exists on dry land also exists in the sea. We have learned together that everything in physicality is an analogy of its spiritual counterpart. Just as there is a revealed world and a hidden world, so this is manifested physically by land and sea. Dry land represents that which is revealed, the sea, that which is concealed. On dry land, (the revealed world), everything appears to have its own separate existence; to be an entity for itself. In the revealed world, the illusion is that the Curtain which we see and touch is the whole story. Each part of the curtain appears to be an independent entity. Underwater, in the concealed world there is not the same apparent independence because there is not the same obvious profile of visibility.
Why is it so important that we remember the concept of the splitting of the Sea everyday? HaShem opened up the Curtain to reveal open G-dliness. Nature (Elokim) was suspended by a revelation of Havayah. The Sea divided (all waters on earth divided) and the Jews crossed over on dry land, nature having been suspended for them. When the Egyptians tried to follow suit, the sea flowed back in its natural state drowning them.
HaShem demonstrated a revelation of His Name Havayah. Since that which is hidden was revealed in spirituality that which was hidden must be revealed in physicality. Hence all water divided to reveal dry land.
Am Yisrael walked (and continues to walk), outside of nature, on the naturally impossible dry land. A Jew is obliged to see himself in every generation as if he had just left all limitations, to see physicality, and that which is concealed in physicality, divide in front of him, providing he is doing his job. Providing a Jew tunes into living like a Jew, and in fact does so, nature has no constraint whatsoever upon him.
This is so important, a Jew is required to remember it everyday. We are obligated to understand that our relationship is with the Name Havayah; providing that a Jew learns Torah and performs mitzvos to his full potential, he is freed of the limitations of nature. There will be a revelation of G-dliness for every Jew, sufficient to reveal a clear path through the covered sea of daily life.
This is the week of the crossing of the miraculously parted Sea. Every Jew has the opportunity to relive this phenomenon daily, but this week the signal is especially strong, allowing every Jew to tune it in clearly.
- (Back to text) See Tanya, Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah, Ch. 4, (p. 79a), Ch. 6, (p. 80a), Ch. 7, (p. 82a).
- (Back to text) Shemos 5:2.
- (Back to text) Likkutei Sichos, Vol. I, p. 119 and elsewhere.
- (Back to text) Pesachim 116b; see also Tanya, Ch. 47 (p. 66b).
- (Back to text) Chullin 127a, explained in Torah Or, p. 62a; Derech Chaim, p. 94a.