[This shmuess was delivered in 5743.]
The more we contemplate the parshiyos of Shemos
relating the story of yetzias Mitzrayim and krias
Yam Suf — parshiyos that contain the
principles of our emunah — the more we find new
reasons, fresh understandings, and added clarity.
This Chumash — these parshiyos that contain the
principles of our emunah — are also the
foundation of other mitzvos whose essence is that they are "a
remembrance of yetzias Mitzrayim." We must continually
study them in order to define these principles, to refresh
our perceptions and to find new understanding of the sublime
ideas taught to us in Shemos. The Mesillas
Yeshorim (in the introduction) clarifies that even
matters which are simple and clear to all tend to be largely
forgotten, and ignoring them is a widespread phenomenon. We
must therefore stop for a moment and reflect about these
foundations of faith.
After some contemplation we realize that not only do we
believe in these principles but we are actively aware of
them; we actually see them. There is no denying all the
events that happened to our fathers when they left Egypt,
just as a person cannot deny a reality that everyone sees.
"In every generation a person is obliged to see himself as if
he had left Egypt" (Pesochim 116b). This is not meant
in a figurative sense only. This is not an Aggadah of the
gemora but a genuine halachic obligation. A person
must devote thought to this topic and envisage himself among
the multitudes of Jews who left Egypt.
Let us open up Shemos and see what is written there.
The Torah describes the exodus from Egypt of six hundred
thousand adult males besides women and children. The number
of adult males includes only those aged from twenty to sixty
years. The total of those who left Egypt accordingly reaches
into the millions. Those millions passed through the Yam Suf
while walking on dry land. The ocean split before them into
twelve sections, each shevet having its own
passageway. Bnei Yisroel satisfied their hunger with
sweet fruits that grew within the water. The Yam Suf became a
An entire nation was chasing after them: a mighty army of six
hundred chosen chariots picked from the elite Egyptian force,
led by Pharaoh himself. They were chasing after Yisroel, a
weak nation that had suffered terribly over the years.
But the Egyptians' might did not help them. They and their
horses sunk in the Yam Suf, as witnessed by millions of
bnei Yisroel. To the generation that saw the krias
Yam Suf and the sinking of Pharaoh's army, the Torah
declares: "You saw what I did to Egypt" (Shemos 19:4).
You were not told a story that happened thousands of years
ago. You are being reminded of what you yourselves saw. You
passed through the ocean on dry land. You saw Pharaoh's army
drown in the ocean. You passed through Yam Suf as it split in
twelve parts and with your own hands picked fruits to eat.
You saw it!
The Torah continues: "And I will carry you on the wings of
eagles and bring you to Me" (Ibid.). Rashi explains,
"All of you, in one day. Yisroel were scattered all over the
land of Goshen and in a short time, from the moment they
decided to travel and leave, they all were gathered at
Raamses." From Raamses, Yisroel traveled to Succos —
"And bnei Yisroel travelled from Raamses to Succos"
(Shemos 12:37). Rashi (Ibid.) explains that
Succos was a hundred and twenty mil away, yet bnei
Yisroel came there in a short time, as is written, `And I
will carry you on the wings of eagles.'" Millions of people
saw and experienced being carried "on the wings of eagles";
heavenly mal'ochim brought them in a short time over
vast distances. For those millions the Torah declares: "You
All of bnei Yisroel heard this, and were silent and
accepted what the Torah said: "You saw." Is there a greater
proof of the truth of these miracles? If, chas
vesholom, what was told about yetzias Mitzrayim
and krias Yam Suf was not true, why did everyone there
not stand up and scream out: "A lie! What? We saw something?
Where did we see something?"
That did not happen. Klal Yisroel did not deny
anything. They heard, were silent, and corroborated by their
silence everything written in the Torah. There is no further
need of proof.
Not only were those who lived during that generation loyal
witnesses to krias Yam Suf, but also we, their
offspring, are considered as having "seen" the miracle. We
have a Torah, the Torah that has been passed down through the
generations, the same Torah possessed by the generation that
wandered in the Sinai Desert, without any additions or
subtractions, chas vesholom. Not even one kutzo
shel yod was omitted from the Torah that our fathers
received. If one letter were either missing or added, the
Sefer Torah would be posul.
This Torah that we have inherited from our fathers and
forefathers, from those millions of people who stood at the
foot of Mount Sinai and received it, tells us that two months
after bnei Yisroel left Egypt they came to Mount Sinai
and received the Torah. It is absolutely clear that this
Torah was passed down to us through Moshe Rabbenu, who
received it from Hashem. It was not, chas vesholom, a
history book written by some historian or an author depending
on coincidental happenings and baseless assumptions.
What we have is a Toras Emes. It clearly testifies
before us that those millions of people who received it
passed through the Yam Suf walking on dry land. Not one of
them denied that this happened. We ourselves are witnesses,
and unquestionably validate the truth of krias Yam
Can this be called emunah? We have absolute proof of
what happened! We can actually see it!
Not only Am Yisroel witnessed krias Yam Suf,
but all the nations of the world testify about it. The
Midrash teaches us that when the ocean split all
bodies of water in the world split too. Water in every
container, water in buckets, water in cups — all split.
The whole world saw that. Millions of people witnessed it.
"The people shall hear and be afraid, trembling shall take
hold of the inhabitants of Peleshes. Then the chiefs of Edom
shall be amazed, the mighty men of Moav, trembling shall take
hold upon them, all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt
away" (Shemos 15:14- 15). They were all silent and did
not deny this event. Is there any possibility of denying this
truth? Here is real proof!
Everyone saw and understood that there is a Creator of the
World. There is a power that is Master over this great
edifice. When He wishes, there will be an ocean, and when He
wishes the ocean will cease and turn into dry land. He is the
Creator, the ruler, and everything is done according to what
Likewise we are witnesses for the receiving of the Torah at
Mt. Sinai. We are witnesses that the Torah is from heaven.
The Torah was passed down to us, from generation to
generation, all the way back to Moshe Rabbenu. The Torah
writes that HaKodosh Boruch Hu Himself descended on
Mt. Sinai and the noise of the shofar increased in
volume. "Moshe would speak and Elokim answered him by a
voice" (Shemos 19:19).
The Jewish Nation stands in its multitudes at the foot of Mt.
Sinai, millions hear the voice of the living Elokim
talking from within the fire. Out of sheer fear they
request, "You speak to us and we will hear, and let Elokim
not speak to us lest we die" (Ibid., 20:15). Everyone
heard, everyone trembled and shook — "All people in the
camp trembled" (Ibid., 19:16).
Moshe afterwards descends from the mountain with the sefer
Torah, and he teaches the nation about the revelation on
Mt. Sinai. The nation accepts silently what Moshe teaches
them. Not one person out of the millions stands up and denies
what is written. Not one person cries out: "Where did that
happen? Did we see Hashem descend from Heaven?" No! No one
calls out. Everyone verifies what everyone saw, and together
they accept this Torah, and bequeath to their children all
that is written in it.
Since we have reliable and clear testimony for all the
miracles and wonders that Hashem did for our fathers when
they left Egypt, we are obliged to understand that there is a
Creator of the World. There is a Creator Who changes what He
wishes, Who created everything and is Lord over everything.
We must, then, run our lives according to the trustworthy
principles that are the basis of our faith.
End of Part I