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Pesah: G-d’s Promise at the Shores of the Yam Suf

As Beneh Yisrael found themselves trapped against the Yam Suf by the pursuing Egyptian army, having nowhere to escape, Moshe assured them that they had nothing to fear. He said, "G-d shall wage war for you, while you remain silent" ("Hashem Yilahem Lachem Ve’atem Taharishun" – Shemot 14:14).

The Mechilta (a Midrashic text on Sefer Shemot) explains this to mean that G-d will always "wage war" for us, that He will always assist us. G-d’s promise at the shores of the Yam Suf referred not only to the crisis Beneh Yisrael faced at that moment, but also to future crises they would face throughout their history.

What message is the Mechilta trying to convey to us? Why is it important for us to know that this promise was made for all future generations?

Rav Meir Simcha Ha’kohen of Dvinsk (1843-1926), in his Meshech Hochma, explains that at the shores of the Yam Suf, Beneh Yisrael expressed a legitimate "argument," so-to-speak, as they cried for help. We read several verses earlier that they said to Moshe, "Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you took us to die in the desert?" (14:11). They argued that it would be senseless for them to have left Egypt only to die a week later by the sword of the Egyptian army. This was a very reasonable claim, and so they were saved. The point that our Sages are making in the Mechilta is that G-d promised to come to our side and assist us even when "Taharishun" – when we are silent, meaning, when we do not have compelling claims. Even at times when we are not necessarily deserving of G-d’s assistance, when our mouths are "silent," having no words with which to defend ourselves, G-d will still hear our prayers and help us.

The promise made to our forefathers at the shores of Yam Suf is thus as relevant and important today as it was then. We are guaranteed that Hashem lends us His ear and lovingly hears our cries and our pleas under all circumstances, even if we have failed and are unworthy of His help. We are His children and treasured nation, and therefore He welcomes our prayers and eagerly waits for us to turn to Him whenever we need His assistance, even if we do not deem ourselves worthy of it.


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