With the afterglow of the wonderful festival of Pesach still warming our hearts, it’s hard to believe this unique and joyous period of time is over.
The onset of the celebrations began on Shabbos Hagodol with our alumni retreat at Beit Shvidler, which brought together over 30 families for a weekend of rest and spiritual exhilaration. In addition to the informative workshops and classes that dealt with making Pesach more manageable and inspiring, the general excitement and positive energy undoubtedly jump-started the Pesach seder experience for all participants.
The culmination of the chag, of course, is the seventh day of Pesach where we celebrate the kriyas yam suf. This is the juncture at which the Jewish people became united with Hashem like children to a loving parent. Our sages tell us that the revelation of Hashem’s presence at the Splitting of the Sea afforded the Jewish people a glimpse of centuries of Jewish history that lay ahead in the future, reaching through time until the resurrection of the dead. Even the simplest individuals merited a degree of prophecy and the bonding with the Divine that will not be repeated until the Messianic era.
The experience was so profound, the Zohar tells us, that the people did not want to leave the site where they had attained this ‘spiritual’ infusion. They had to be pulled away from the banks of the Red Sea, as the Torah tells us with the words, “Vayasa Moshe es ho’am-Moshe compelled the nation to travel onward.”
After saying farewell to the festival of Pesach, we all feel an echo of these uplifting sentiments. It is not easy to transition back into mundane activities and the daily grind. Nevertheless, we do so knowing we are much richer from the inspiration and strengthening of belief with which the chag endowed us.
A thought occurred to me regarding the Krias Yam Suf that may assist us to move forward after the festival, as we journey towards our next stop on our calendar cycle-the foot of Mt. Sinai and the festival of Shavuos.
Our sages tell us that the finding a person’s zivug-life partner-is as difficult as the Splitting of the Sea. The obvious question is: how can we imply that anything at all is difficult for G-d? And in what way is the designation of one’s bashert analogous to the Splitting of the Sea?
We are taught that before their souls descended to this world; husband and wife were unified as one soul. They were holistically integrated just as Adam and Chava were initially a single entity. Hashem splits the soul so that future husband and wife are invested in different bodies with completely different personalities and life conditions. When they are finally united they are charged with the responsibility of bonding as a couple and finding common purpose as they weave together a shared destiny in married life. At the conclusion of life’s journey when one partner departs, sadness and grief envelops the other. As our sages tell us, there is no greater pain than that experienced by one who has been bereft of his or her spouse.
Yet, in truth, the marriage partnership is only a minute aspect of the couple’s shared journey. When, at the conclusion of their earthly sojourn, the souls of both husband and wife ascend heavenward and reunite at their celestial source, they are bonded for eternity. Their ephemeral earthly journey was actually only a minor blip on the eternal radar screen of their soul’s existence. This perspective is very important to maintain as we travel through life. It is precisely analogous to the splitting of the waters at Krias Yam Suf.
The sea is one rushing mighty force that Hashem momentarily split into two towering walls. The walls stood sentry as two separate entities fulfilling the Divine word and enabling the Jewish people to pass through the desert into the Promised Land. Just like two partners of a marriage stand opposite one another, each an ezer k’negdo, in order to facilitate the Divine will, so the waters split in order to enable the fulfillment of the Jewish people’s ultimate destiny.
This splitting of the sea was already ordained from the time of the Six Days of Creation, our sages tell us. The stupendous miracle was built into the blueprint of Creation, testifying to the fact that our world is one holistic entity, with G-d’s presence permeating and animating all of existence.
Hashem purposely created a fragmented world of diverse polarities, to test man’s ability to identify the Divine force behind this grand illusion. In order for the world to be able to reach fulfillment and realize its Divine destiny, mankind must recognize that behind the seeming plurality of natural forces that conceal Him is one omniscient and omnipotent Creator. Nowhere in creation is this challenge more visible than in marriage itself !
The existence of an array of natural forces is itself part of the grand illusion-and Hashem’s act of cloaking His orchestration of events behind these natural-seeming causes is perhaps what Chazal meant when they compared the Divine handiwork of marriage to the splitting of the Yam Suf. Just as the walls of water were an essential part of the mighty ocean before being split, so too husband and wife at their spiritual core are two parts of a pre-existing, fundamental whole, even though their core unity is not visible to mortal eyes.
The splitting of the waters mirrors the splitting of one soul into two sub-units, with both activities bearing witness to the unfathomable power and wisdom of the Master of the Universe.
As we travel along the road of life, we must bear in mind that all the challenges we face in cementing our marriage relaitionships mask a deeper reality-affirming the absolute oneness of the Creator. Our task is to find Him behind the veil of multiple forces that appear to govern existence and through strenthening our own shalom bayis we can actually discover Him and His oneness.
Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos,
Rabbi Naftali Reich
Text Copyright © 2014 by Rabbi Naftali Reich and Torah.org.
Rabbi Reich is on the faculty of the Ohr Somayach Tanenbaum Education Center.