When I Left Egypt
Experiencing the miracle of the splitting of the Red Sea.
Zahava is a 10th grader in Monsey, NY. She also happens to be a granddaughter of Rabbi Yaakov Salomon.
I gasp. The stinging blow takes my breath away. The whip comes down yet again, and I cry out, hold up my hand, in a futile attempt to stop the whip. In return, a gash opens up on my palm, blood seeping out. Tears spring to my eyes, but I try to hold it in, be strong. How much longer will my nation suffer in slavery under the Egyptians? But what I don’t know is that the salvation is right around the corner, and that in just a short while the entire universe will know His name. Because the Almighty will redeem His nation from 200 years of slavery and split the sea.
We’re trapped. We’re surrounded. We’re scared. I see the fear in my husband’s eyes. I hear it the soft whimper that barely escapes my child’s lips as she clutches my palm ever so tightly. I feel it pooling inside me like an iron grip clawing at my soul. Our captors are back to torment us, quickly advancing toward us. But there’s nowhere to run.
Ahead lies a vast sea, stretched across the land, daring us to jump in. Tall trees loom over us on either side, and wild animals slowly emerge from the unknown. But I shudder when I glance behind us. Large, ornate chariots clatter and jostle on the uneven ground. The tortured horses kick up dust with their hooves, sweat streaking their worn faces. But up in the carriages are the Egyptian masters with their malicious thoughts and twisted hearts.
Amidst my fear and pain, I have forgotten something: God will never forsake us.
The sight opens up a chamber in my soul, one I’d never thought I’d have to revisit, and the painful memories come flooding back. The memories of those years in slavery, torturous backbreaking labor, when you are never sure if you will live to see the next sunrise. Tears threaten to spill and a few salty drops manage to leak out of my eyes, tracing a bitter path down my face. My eyes drift up to the heavens, and looking at the bright azure sky, I realize amidst my fear and pain, I have forgotten something: God will never forsake us.
He’s gone in. I think his name is Nachshon. I share a look with my husband, and I know we’re thinking the same thing. What is he doing? He’s going to drown!
But then I realize. He has faith. This time the look shared with my husband is one of admiration for the brave soul who has heeded God’s call and has waded into the Red Sea. His pure faith and trust in God is crystal clear. But the water is up to his chin now, and I watch, my heart pounding. At that moment, when it seems all is lost, God decides to reveal His hand to every being in the world.
I know this is a tale that will be told over in the years to come to sweet children at bedtime, adults celebrating the holiday, and Rabbis as they debate the topic. It’s The Splitting of the Sea. My breath catches as I watch a pure miracle unfolding before my very eyes, etching itself into the history of the universe. The sapphire blue waves tumble and roll over each other, and in an instant, as if an invisible hand swiped across the ocean, the sea is transformed. The sparkling waters of the Red Sea stand frozen in two looming crystal walls. The walls of water are the guests, waiting on either side of the aisle for the bride, the Children of Israel to walk down it. Fear, sorrow, and disbelief melt into hope, jubilance, and joy as my nation celebrates the miracle, basking in the love and warmth of God’s glory. With tears of happiness streaming down our faces, we step forward into a bright and promising new future.
Fear, sorrow, and disbelief melt into hope, jubilance, and joy as my nation celebrates the miracle, basking in God’s love.
Melodious tunes waft into the air and everyone partakes in the singing and dancing, praising and thanking God for this miraculous wonder. The pure joy and ecstasy resonating in my ears uplifts my soul, like a crying infant taken from its cradle into warm and loving arms. I’m enveloped in the warmth of God’s presence. The throngs of people, just freed from slavery, are now joined together in unity, proud to be a part of the Chosen Nation.
I glance down at my child and a smile breaks out on my face as I watch her take in the majestic view. The sparkling waters are like shards of glass glistening in the sunlight. The area of dry land is divided into 12 paths, one for each tribe. Separating each path is a thin, transparent wall of cobalt blue water. I feel a sense of security that I’m able to see the rest of my nation celebrating alongside me.
I feel a tug at my hand and my child pulls me over to one of the beautiful crystal walls. She flashes me a soft smile and leans forward to suck at the wall. Her face glows and her eyes shine as she sips the sweet juice from the wall. The sand beneath our feet is soft and warm, comfortable and with no trace of mud.
I glance behind and watch in awe as the crystal walls of water come crashing down, pounding the earth with such a force. The water destroys and drowns every Egyptian, carriage, horse, and weapon in its wake. I’m mesmerized, at a loss for words, as I see all the pure miracles that God performed, all for the sake of his beloved nation.
The splitting of the sea. How can I ever forget it? The fear of being trapped, the hope of being saved and the elation of experiencing the miracle. It’s all a gift. I will try my hardest to instill that in my child and to make sure she never forgets that day. Not only the actual miracle, but the love that was behind it all. Because if not for His tremendous love for us, we too could have been swept into the mighty depths of the ocean.
It’s all a gift. Not only the open miracles, but the ones that we don’t notice, the ones that are hiding. We just have to take the time to look for them.