Rabbi Label Lam
Hashem saved on that day Israel from the hand of Egypt and Israel saw
the Egyptians dead on the seashore. And Israel saw the great hand that
Hashem inflicted upon Egypt and the people feared Hashem and they had
faith in Hashem and Moshe His servant. (Shemos 14:30-31)
It's certainly great news to hear how inspired the Children of Israel
were at having the seen the sea split before their eyes. The common
complaint and/or question is "How come Hashem doesn't split the sea for
us?" Then we can have the same degree of certainty and commitment that
they had. We would also probably spontaneously erupt into an ecstatic
song shouting "this is my G-d and I will glorify him!"(Shemos 15:2)
There are two different things that the Talmud tells us are as
"difficult" (for G-d to do) as the splitting of the sea. One is the
making of marriage partners and the other is the livelihood of a person.
Is anything more or less difficult for The A-lmighty to do? In which
ways are they similar? They are both profound human needs. In which way
are they different? One is perhaps a once in a lifetime event while the
other is a daily happening. Maybe the answer lies in their commonality
as well as their distinctiveness.
Let's imagine the following scenario together. While drinking a coffee
at 8:00 AM there's a brief knock and an envelope is seen appearing from
underneath the door. A man is spotted running to his car. In the
envelope is a hundred dollars cash for you. You wave thanks as the car
speeds away. "Who was that stranger?" you wonder, "I wanted to thank
him!" The next morning, at the exact time, the same thing happens, and
continuously six days a week (on Friday, two hundred) for years.
Each of the first few times you can't stop waving and thanking till the
car is well out of sight. After a while, though, you put a sign on the
door not to knock and you remain annoyed when your order is ignored. You
begin to wonder why you don't just get a lump sum. What's all this
business with only the hundred bucks a day anyway, and the paper wasted
on envelopes? One day the envelope is empty and you're ready to sue the
man and forcefully demand your money the next time he has the nerve to
show up on your doorstep. It sounds absurd! No?
No! One of my teachers once said very pithily, "Our definition of nature
is repeating miracles", pointing out that the numerical value of
"nature" (ha-teva) is the same as the name for G-d, E-lokim (86). When
something happens once we call it a miracle. When it happens daily we
call it nature. If a baby would be born at the end of a tree limb his
picture would fill all the papers. We'd all be completely consumed with
the miracle of the "tree-baby". However if kids started popping up on
trees all over the world, people would become occupied with spraying and
pruning the things to prevent crowding and inconvenience.
I'm afraid that if the sea would split every day and twice on Saturdays
(matinee day) many of us would postpone ever taking the trip to see it
indefinitely until it would be too late. Those who will have seen the
splitting multiple times will also probably become inured to the event
in short order and grow weary of it. However if it only happens once we
feel excluded for having missed the big event. What do we do?
There are certain events that happen once in history, which send out
great waves of inspiration like the splitting of the sea. There are
other monumental happenings like a wedding whose memory echoes good
cheer for an entire life long. Not dissimilar are daily occurrences
(like getting an orange in the middle of winter, or eating a slice of
bread) which may have passed underneath our radar screen unnoticed, if
the Talmud had not given us a clue.
The splitting of the sea is not more amazing than finding your soul mate
which is not less miraculous than a bowl of granola for breakfast. They
each demonstrate an intense degree of personal catering to the nuances
of our needs. The only difference may be in the magnitude of the
celebration, which is in direct proportion to the frequency of the
event, yet each gets a song!
The A-lmighty gives us what we need in the right amounts. Air is more
abundant than water, which is more available than food. Our appetite for
complaining about the infrequency of so called miraculous events would
dissipate instantly if the menu called for breakfast only once in
history and every day we'd be forced to endure again and again for lunch
Text Copyright © 2002 Rabbi Dovid Green and
Project Genesis, Inc.