Parshas Beshalach contains one of the most incredible events in the history of the world, the Splitting of the Red Sea. For the first time since the creation of the world, Hashem bent the rules of nature to allow Bnei Yisrael to escape from the Egyptians. In fact, the entire world was included in this miracle; Chazal teach us that at the time that the Red Sea split, every body of water in the world split as well. This let the whole world know what was happening; how powerful Hashem is and how far He is willing to go for His nation.
When Bnei Yisrael arrived at the sea, things did not look so rosy. With the sea in front of them and the Egyptian army coming from behind, the only thing left for the nation to do was daven to Hashem. But Hashem sends back an interesting response. “וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל מֹשֶׁה מַה תִּצְעַק אֵלָי "דַּבֵּר אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְיִסָּעוּ. וְאַתָּה הָרֵם אֶת מַטְּךָ וּנְטֵה אֶת יָדְךָ עַל הַיָּם וּבְקָעֵהוּ וְיָבֹאוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּתוֹךְ הַיָּם בַּיַּבָּשָׁה “And Hashem said to Moshe, ‘why are you crying out to me? Speak to the Children of Israel and let them travel. And you raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and it will split, and the children of Israel will travel in the middle of the sea on dry land” (Shemos 14:15-16).
Hashem tells Moshe that they should stop davening! We see in numerous places that as long as He has not answered us, Hashem always wants us to daven; how could He say now, at a moment of dire need, that they should stop davening? Furthermore, when Hashem tells Moshe to stretch his staff over the water, it seems like He’s saying that their tefillos were answered; so how come He has to tell Moshe to stop davening? Why be snide, just say he’s been answered! Lastly, why did Hashem tell the Bnei Yisrael to start traveling before telling Moshe to split the sea? It should be the other way around.
The Ohr HaChaim explains that when a person is facing peril, he is being judged. Hashem takes into account all of their actions and decides if they are worthy of being saved. The way to awaken the mercy of Hashem is to do good deeds down here. However, at this point in time, Bnei Yisrael had very few good deeds that made them worthy of being saved. Therefore, something else needed to be done to make them deserving of mercy.
Hashem tells Moshe, ‘there is no point in crying out to me, based on My own system, as much as I want to make a miracle, I can’t save you. The only thing Bnei Yisrael could do was perform an act of belief and faith in God so great, that it would automatically cause the Hashem’s mercy to overpower His judgement. Therefore, Hashem tells them to stop davening! Head straight into the sea even though it’s not even split yet! Through this act of faith, you will deserve a great miracle; and as they travel into the sea, He tells Moshe to hold out his staff and split it.
While this story took place thousands of years ago, the same principle applies nowadays. We may find ourselves stuck between a rock and a hard place, but if we commit ourselves to Hashem, if we strengthen our faith in Him, He will provide for us no matter the circumstances.
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