Sign In Forgot Password

Passover 7th Day 5782 ~ April 22, 2022

Imagine, if you would, being a part of the Israelite people- now free people- as they begin their journey into the wilderness heading towards Mt. Sinai. What thoughts might they be experiencing? Could it be that they feel overwhelmed with joy? Perhaps they feel hope for a true future?

One Midrash suggests that there were different groups fighting as to what they should do once they reached the Sea of Reeds. The Midrash gives the impression that they were closed in the desert and did not know where to go. Seeing the Egyptians in pursuit, one group actually had a doomed  or fatalistic mentality, and began walking right back into the hands of the Egyptian army, willing to be taken back as captives and slaves. We know of the famous midrash of Nachshon ben Aminadav having the faith and courage to wade into the waters of the Sea, causing them to split in two. Witnessing that miracle, the Children of Israel followed him through the walls of the water to safety on the other side.

I often wonder why God needed to send the Egyptians in pursuit. Once the Children of Israel had become free, shouldn’t God have just let them be, not just the Israelite nation, but also the Egyptians?  The Egyptians clearly had experienced enough during the plagues to be quite grateful to rid themselves of both the plagues and the people. And the Israelites – wasn’t there a need for a time to comprehend and appreciate their new found freedom and to gather under the leadership of Moses and Aaron and find their way to the Promised Land?

Could it be that the Egyptians themselves had now become slaves to the Pharaoh based on their selling themselves and their possessions way back in the time of the famine under Joseph’s economic recovery plan? Generations were now experiencing the economic reality of generations passed. Was the only way out of their becoming the slaves to Pharoah once again to bring back the Hebrew slaves?

Might it be that there was a leadership dispute amongst the now free slaves? Could it be that they simply could not understand their new lives? Had they expected that their new found freedom would come with a lavishness of the Rodeo Drive or Newbury Street of Cairo, albeit in the wilderness? Were they not aware that the life and attitude changes were not overnight realities, but would take years and generations? (Almost every immigrant to America and Canada during the days of our parents and grandparents understood that reality and lived it. Their successes and disappointments in a new found land fostered where and whom we are today. That is our personal journey and story, our own Haggadah.)

My personal reading of the Torah provides me with an understanding that, perhaps with the different sides of the Children of Israel uncertain of what to do, God needed to send the Egyptian army in pursuit, almost as a shepherd or a ranch hand, to wrangle them back in together, and put them on the right course which would lead them to Mt. Sinai and eventually the Promised Land. And despite the vivid picture of the Egyptians drowning in the depth of the waters of the Sea, the still-slaved mentality Israelites needed to be assured that the Egyptian army did not have a phalanx pursuing them from the other side in somewhat of an ambush (as they had experienced with the nation of Amalek.)

The chalutzim (the pioneers) in Israel way back in the late 19th and 20th centuries understood the difficulties of establishing a brand new nation; that it wasn’t going to be given to them on a Seder plate. It took work, grit, setback and disappointments. Imagine if they could actually see modern day Israel today with all of its successes? How proud they would be, not only to see how Israel is a thriving, technologically advanced democratic country, but that its population is the ninth most happy and content of people found within the borders of any country in the world today.

There are still many hurdles and obstacles for Israel to overcome, from that of peace with a more militant enemy that still exists, the Iran’s of the world and the Palestinian issue (which remains a plague) to that of religious acceptance of identity and practice in Israel of every Jew. Yet, the successes are a most positive actuality.

Yet, if there is one reality we can learn from the Torah reading on the seventh day of Passover, it is that miracles are not simply those God creates, but ones that involve our own personal successes and setbacks; the faith to answer the more difficult questions and circumstances that pursue us, and which ultimately become not only continuing pursuits, but reasons to celebrate.

Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom.

Fri, June 24 2022 25 Sivan 5782