The seventh day: crossing the Sea
April 13, 2012
Crossing the Sea. Image by Rina bat Tzion.
Today is the seventh day of Pesach. (For Jews in Israel, and for Reform and Reconstructionist Jews everywhere, this is the last day of Pesach; for Orthodox and Conservative Jews outside of Israel, there's an 8th day. Reb Jeff explains it all if you're curious to know more.) Tradition says that the seventh day is the anniversary of the day when our ancestors entered the Sea of Reeds and crossed through the sea to freedom.
The crossing of the Sea of Reeds is one of the most powerful parts of the Pesach story for me. Imagine reaching the edge of the waters, an army in pursuit, and realizing that there is nowhere else to go. Imagine what it was like for Nachshon ben Aminadav, who our tradition says was the first to step boldly into the ocean. Imagine the anxiety mounting as he walked in all the way up to his neck before the waters parted.
Imagine walking across the muddy ocean floor, an unfamiliar world revealed. Maybe there were walls of water on both sides, a living aquarium. Maybe the waters receded as in a tsunami, and when the children of Israel had crossed, came rushing powerfully back in. Imagine reaching the other side, arriving somewhere new and unknown, and recognizing the miracle inherent in the journey.
Is this a historical story? For me, that question misses the point. What matters is that the story contains spiritual truths. That sometimes we have to take the plunge, even when we don't feel ready. That when we take the first step, trusting in ourselves and in divine providence, amazing things can happen. That moving through the birth canal into an unknown world is terrifying, but the blessings on the other side are limitless.
For more on this, try this post I made a few years ago: Song for the seventh day - a teaching from the Slonimer Rebbe about elemental trust.