The Torah passages and Israel's holidays are full of important messages that are relevant and empower our day-to-day lives. Rabbi Shai Tahan, head of the Sha'arei Ezra community and head of the Arzi HaLebanon teaching house, opens the gates for us to understand these messages, from their source, in a clear way. This week: The connection of the splitting of the sea with an abusive relationship.
One of the greatest miracles in world’s history was the splitting of the sea as the Jewish nation was fleeing from the Egyptians. The Egyptians were misled and continued to chase the nation into the open sea which then came back to its original state causing the Egyptians to drown.
Our Sages explain that at the time Hashem split the water, all the waters in the world split as well, to demonstrate to the entire world that Hashem takes care of us; as well as to put fear in the heart of those who intend to hurt us.
The water formed walls on two sides while the ground hardened to allow the people to walk.
Since crossing the sea took some time, people needed food to eat and water to drink, therefore Hashem turned some of the sea water sweet and grew trees with good fruits to eat.
The Torah says that as soon as the people saw the Egyptians drown, they started singing a song of praise to Hashem.
Rav Shlomo Kluger (who was a leading halachic authority of the 19th century) wrote that from the fact that the nation didn’t sing for the splitting of the sea, but rather for the elimination of the Egyptians, we can infer that the Jewish nation viewed the destruction of the Egyptians to be a greater feat than the splitting of the sea.
When studying the words of the song we can also see that it speaks mostly of the fact that the Egyptians died.
Why was the death of the Egyptians be considered greater?
When one is in an abusive relationship, whether it’s physical abuse or emotional, the effect and toll it has on him is extremely devastating. A person feels confusion, anxiety, guilt and shame, powerless and social withdrawal or loneliness.
The very first step for healing is to distance the abuser, which many times won’t even help because the abused feels constant fear that the abuser is out to get him sometime, somewhere.
When Hashem speaks to Moshe in the beginning of Parashat Bo, He says He will abuse the Egyptians in order for the nation to see and say it over to their children. Hashem then brings upon the Egyptians many plagues and humiliates them over and over again.
The purpose of doing that was to demonstrate to the Jewish people that their abusive masters are powerless and to slowly break the fear they felt towards their masters.
Those feelings were not fully healed until Hashem drowned the Egyptians and showed the Jews their dead masters on the shore.
Since the death of the Egyptians was a personal relief for each person, we can now understand why the people felt this was a much greater deal than the splitting of the sea which, although was a very big miracle, was less personal.
Still, the elimination of the abuser is only a partial cure, as abuse can leave scars for many years to come, causing rapid emotional deterioration. Therefore, the Torah tells us that when the nation came to mount Sinai they were healed from all their sicknesses, physical and emotional, bringing them to complete recovery.
My wish at the end of this article is that we should not fully understand this painful message, as only a person who went through such pain can fully comprehend the impact of this lesson.
This article was written in cooperation with Shuva Israel