“And Moshe stretched out his hand over
the sea, and HASHEM moved the sea with a strong eastern wind
all the night, and He turned the sea to damp land and the
water split.” — Shemos 14:21
Egypt, the country
that bragged that no slave had ever escaped its land, stood
by helplessly as the Chosen Nation triumphantly left. Yet
even at this moment, Pharaoh sent spies along to follow
them. After three days, his agents reported back that the
Jews had veered off course. Pharaoh called out to his
people, “Let us reclaim that which is ours,” and he led them
When the Mitzrim arrived on the
scene, the Jews were camped out against the Yam Suf. At that
moment, the cloud of fire that led the Jews through the
desert moved to the back of the camp and stopped the
Egyptians from advancing. That entire night, both camps
stood in their places, separated by the Clouds of Glory.
The Ramban explains that during
the night, an eastern wind began blowing. This was the wind
that split the sea. At first, it made small indentations in
the sea, but as the night wore on, the wind became stronger,
and those small indentations grew in size and depth until
the sea itself was split into twelve distinct pathways –
ready for each tribe to cross in its own channel.
The Ramban explains that HASHEM
split the sea with the wind “so that it would appear as if
the wind split the sea into partitions.” Even though the
wind can’t possibly split the sea, much less split it into
twelve separate partitions, nevertheless, because of their
great desire to harm the Jews, the Mitzrim “pegged it
on a natural cause.” It was just the wind, nothing more.
This Ramban is very difficult to
understand. How could the Mitzrim possibly pin the
splitting of the sea on the wind? They were intelligent,
thinking people. They, as everyone else, clearly understood
that this couldn’t be a natural occurrence. How is it
possible that they accepted this sham – that the wind split
Understanding free will
The answer to this question is predicated
upon understanding the concept of free will. Free will
doesn’t mean the theoretical ability to do good or
bad. It is the practical ability where either side is
possible. When a person can just as easily turn to the bad
as to the good, then it is his decision to choose.
As an illustration, do you have free will
to put your hand in a fire? In theory, you do. You could do
it. But you never would. It is damaging. It is foolish. So,
while in theory you have free will to do it, on a
practical level, you don’t.
Chazal (our sages) tell us that
HASHEM created man to give him the opportunity to shape
himself into what he would be for eternity. That molding of
the person is accomplished by choosing what is good and
proper and avoiding that which is wrong and evil. By making
these choices, man forms himself.
To create an even playing field, HASHEM
took the sechel – that pure, brilliant part of me –
and inserted it into a body filled with drives, passions,
and hungers. Now the two parts of me are integrated. I don’t
want only what is good and proper and noble. I also desire
and hunger for many other things. My choice of doing only
good is no longer so simple.
However, if HASHEM created man only out
of these two parts – the sechel and the guf –
the purpose of creation would never have been met. The
wisdom of man is so great that it would be almost impossible
for him to sin. Since every sin damages me and every
mitzvah makes me into a bigger, better person, my
natural intelligence wouldn’t allow me to sin, no matter how
tempted I might be. I would clearly recognize it as damaging
to me. Much like putting my hand into a fire, in theory I
would have free will to do it, but on a practical level, I
Imagination – its role
Therefore, HASHEM added one more
component to the human: imagination. Imagination is
the creative ability to form a mental picture and sense it
so vividly, so graphically; it is as if it is real. Ask
anyone who has ever cried while reading a novel whether
imagination isn’t a powerful force.
Now armed with this force, man can create
fanciful worlds at his will and actually believe them. If
man wishes to turn to evil, he can create rationales to make
these ways sound noble and proper – at least enough to fool
himself. If he wishes he can do what is right, or if he
wishes, he can turn to wickedness, and even his brilliant
intellect won’t prevent him. With imagination, he is capable
of creating entire philosophies to explain how the behavior
he desires is righteous, correct, and appropriate. Now
man has free will.
People believe what they
want to believe
The result of this is that people don’t
believe that which is factual, proven and true; they believe
what they want to believe. And, one of the greatest
manifestations of this is the Egyptians following the
Jews to their death. Despite living through the makkos,
despite seeing the sea split into twelve sections, they
didn’t believe it was a miracle. They attributed it to the
wind because that is what they wanted to believe.
We see a
parallel to this in our day, when educated people claim that
the world just evolved. No Creator. No Plan. No purpose. All
of the complexity of this vast world just happened. You
might wonder how anyone could be so blind.
answer is quite simple—I don’t want to accept G-d. If G-d
exists then someone is in charge. If G-d exists then there
are rules. Things I have to do, things I can’t do. That
makes me uncomfortable. I am just much more at ease with
denying the whole thing.
person to see the truth, he must put away his bias and ask
himself what do I honestly think? Forget the consequences.
Forget my agenda. What does logic dictate? In that
framework, a person will see the Creator as clear as day.
However, if he doesn’t want to see the truth, nothing in the
world will convince him, not the greatest miracles, and not
even the splitting of the sea itself. He is capable of
believing exactly what he wants to believe.
Sent by: Joy Haber
on Jan 3, 2012