The 7th of Passover is the annual anniversary of the Splitting of the Sea, that dramatic climax of the Exodus. This is the one of the most famous miracles of all time, and one of the greatest images of the Exodus. It can be found in old paintings, modern cartoons, and all the Passover movies.
What’s the message and relevance for our times? The Hudson or Long Island Sound isn’t likely to split anytime soon. And was it really necessary? Was there no other way to get to the other side?
Especially when considering this opinion in the Medrash that the Jews didn’t cross to the other side by sea. They went into the sea, shook off the pursuing Egyptians, and then the Jews came back on the same Egyptian side. Kind of like a U-Turn in the water. Then they traveled up inland and crossed on a land bridge. That’s an opinion in the Medrash. Now if that’s the case, what was the point of this great miracle!? They didn’t even get to the other side!?
Chassidus explains that the Splitting of the Sea was much more than an escape route. It was a moment of tremendous spiritual revelation.
As the Chassidic texts explain: The sea represents the hidden, mystical, spiritual worlds. Dry land represents that which is revealed and open. For most of our existence we live on dry land. We live in the physical reality and the spiritual, like the sea is this unfathomable, vast depth of which we can only see the surface. Sometimes, we can get a glimpse of what’s inside the sea, but even then, the sea of spirituality remains that, and our physical dry land world remains what it is as well.
The Splitting of the Sea meant that the unfathomable mysterious hidden depths of the sea were transformed to dry land. The concealed became revealed, the esoteric became obvious, distant spirituality became tangible and accessible.
True, that state of being didn’t last long. It came and went. But an important step of the Exodus was to have that experience, that level of revelation, that became a fundamental part of who we are as a people, long after the walls of the sea came crashing down.
This explains what the Talmud says that a simple uneducated maidservant at the Splitting of the Sea saw more Divine revelation than Ezekiel saw in his dramatic prophecies. This wasn’t just an escape route. This was an incredible revelation. The concealed became revealed.
This great miracle, this incredible spiritual opportunity happened in our formative earliest days as a people. It defines us, it is part of who we are. As Jews, we are a curious, inquisitive people, never satisfied with the surface, ever eager to explore, to uncover, to reveal.
True, modern seas are unlikely to split today, but the message is very important today as well. On the 7th Night of Pesach we have the opportunity to dig deep into our souls and reveal the hidden, seek the innermost and bring it out into our daily lives. Chassidic teaching helps us peel away at the layers and uncover tremendous soul power within.