Pesach – Who Parted the Sea?
The seventh day of Passover coincides with the historic date of the splitting of the sea. The Torah reading for that day’s service reflects this, including the passage relating of the sea splitting as well as the subsequent Song of the Sea, sung by Moses and the Children of Israel. The first day of the festival corresponds to the day of the Exodus. The nation followed the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, and they did so for several days. The Egyptian scouts followed their moves, and when it became apparent that they had no intent of returning, Egypt’s army set off in pursuit, pinning them against the sea. At that juncture a curious event took place. The nation cried out to their leader Moses, who in turn cried out to God. “And God said to Moses, ‘What are you crying to me, speak to the children of Israel and let them travel.'” (Exodus 14:15)
It seems that the Lord was telling Moses that there is no point in praying during crises. Who doesn’t pray during a crisis? Why was Moses instructed to cease his prayers and move on?
The Meshech Chochmah explains that God was teaching Moses an important lesson. Until this time the people had been bystanders. They had watched the wonders of God in Egypt, they had taken note of the terrible plagues which had destroyed the country while sparing the Israelites. Everything until now had happened to them, but had not been of their doing. In the wilderness they had followed Moses, looking to him as their leader and the one who would solve their problems. Now, with the Egyptian army at their back and the sea before them, the people again looked to Moses to provide salvation. God told Moses, ‘It’s about time the people owned their problems and took action to be part of the solution.’ God told Moses that the people must move, they must take initiative. Speak to the Children of Israel and let them travel. Until now they have followed, now let them lead.
Rav Soloveitchik points out a difference in the terms used in Egypt and at the sea. God’s act