The newly freed and rescued Children of Israel reached a pinnacle in their belief in Hashem when they stood at the banks of the Yam Suf following their miraculous deliverance. It was a moment of sublime belief in Hashem, a source of inspiration that reverberates thousands of years later, to the descendants of the generation of the desert. The Torah says that what transpired at that moment was “Israel saw the great hand that Hashem inflicted upon Egypt” (Shemos 14:31)
Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt’l questions why this Pasuk is placed right after the Egyptians drowned in the Yam Suf and their bodies washed ashore, rather than earlier when Hashem first split the sea to allow the Jews to pass through? Surely, that was as impressive a display of Hashem’s great hand?
Rav Moshe answers that had Hashem merely split the sea but not slain the Egyptians, that miracle would not have helped the Jews at all, for the enemy would have continued to pursue them. The only thing such a miracle would have accomplished was to display Hashem’s power over nature, and this would not have deserved to be described as a “great hand,” since the Jews had already seen and believed beyond any shadow of doubt that Hashem had total power over the world.
What they were still not convinced of, however, was that Hashem is totally just and uses His power to rescue the righteous and punish the wicked. Therefore, only when they saw the great miracle of Splitting the Sea had at the same time saved them and exacted justice from the Egyptians did they recognize that His “great hand” is passing judgment on those who are evil and acting with benevolence to those who are righteous.
People are wont to say “if only I saw miracles – then I would believe.” That’s not how human nature works. People are inspired and amazed by miracles they witness, but it doesn’t change them. It’s only when they realize it has a direct impact on them, does the lesson become permanent.This perspective can serve as a directional signal for us as to how we can help our children develop a sense of Emunah, complete faith in Hashem and trust that whatever Hashem does is for the best. When children hear of and internalize the lesson of how Hashem intervenes in the affairs of man, and changes nature to accomplish the goals of bringing justice and compassion to mankind’s situation, they will be inspired to view the world in accordance with the dictates of our beliefs.
Children need to hear examples of Hashgacha Pratis (personalized Divine intervention) from parents and teachers. Point out to your child when things “just worked out”, that is was the handiwork of Hashem. Tell stories of `last-minute salvations’ at the Shabbos table and keep impressing the point to your children. In discussions of current events or history, emphasize how nothing happens unless Hashem wants it to be so. This should be the essence of what they learn from the Parsha, and it is what the experience of the Pesach Seder is all about.
We spend great effort in supporting our children in their learning of skills, information and understanding. We must devote the same effort if not more – to helping them see and feel the love of Hashem, the One who loves them and will always protect them. If we can help our children understand that they are never alone (even after our 120 years are up) – their loving G-d is always there for them, we will truly have succeeded in our mission as parents.
Best wishes for a wonderful Shabbos,
Rabbi Kalman Baumann