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Reb Shlomo Torahs
THE SPLITTING OF THE RED SEA
CHANGE AS A SIGN OF LOVE
Transcribed by Rivka Haut
for Connections Magazine
Reb Shlomo speaking:
The Bible (Exodos 14:27), tells us that, after the Jews crossed through the Red Sea, “the Sea returned to its strength.” The Gemara says, (Rashi brings it on the verse) do not read it as “strength” but as “condition,”. The Red Sea returned to its original condition. G-d, when He created the Red Sea, made a condition with it that, on the seventh night of Pesach, when the Jews will be by the shores of the Red Sea, the Sea should split open and allow them to pass through.
So, everybody asks, wasn’t it when the Sea split open that it went back to its original condition, when it fulfilled the condition G-d made with it and not when it became water again?
G-d makes conditions, not only with the Sea. G-d makes a condition with every person in the world. G-d tells each person, “There will be one moment in your life when you can save somebody else’s life, there will be a moment when you can do the greatest thing, which I created you for, but – you have to be ready to be something else. To go out of your way. Water, to become dry land, to become anything in the world. The deepest secret of life is that, I always have to be what I am, but there are moments I have to be not what I am also.
I once saw an Irishman who was very much into a schedule. When his wife died, there was no time for the funeral, because he had this schedule and the funeral just didn’t fit in.
But, forget about time schedules. People have soul-schedules also. What’s going on today with our establishment? According to their schedule, the way the world is today doesn’t fit in. So, they just ignore it. For instance, during the Holocaust, they didn’t do anything, right? Because it was not in their schedule. Twenty years later, now, it’s part of their schedule to talk about it… In the sixties we lost thousands of kids to drugs. They didn’t talk about it because it was not on their agenda. What’s going on in Eretz Yisrael now? They all talk about the Arabs. What about inside? We are losing our kids, thousands of kids, but it’s not on their agenda.
How about changing? From ocean, become dry land! Be something else.
True, a rabbi has an office. Why doesn’t he go outside, sometimes? Out on the street!
When you love somebody very much, what is the acid test? If you really love somebody – are you ready to change for that person, even for just a moment?
The Gemara says that finding your soul mate is like crossing the Red Sea. Everybody asks, why does G-d call out, forty days before a person is born, who his soul mate is? Because, for two people to find each other and live together, everybody living on their schedule all the time, they will never make it, right? I am I, and you are you. Unless they are like the Red Sea. When G-d created the Red Sea, at that time, He put in the condition that there will come a moment that it will have to stop being a sea and become dry land. But this is a heavenly power. You cannot do it after you have been created (i.e. with the power of ‘this world’). It must come from before. Because, change is the hardest thing in the world. That kind of change is not from ‘this world’. It’s as deep as when G-d created the world. Therefore, when a person is born, a condition is already made that you will marry this Chanele, but, for this Chanele, I want you to change a thousand times.
Now I want to go one step deeper. Why does the Torah say that the Red Sea went back to its original condition? Here is the deepest Torah in the world. What happens to you if you refuse to change? You know what happens to you? You might say: “Okay, at least I am what I am.” But, really, you are nothing. You know what the Torah says? When was the Red Sea really a sea? After it was ready to change. When are you really what you are? Only if you can be anything for somebody you love. And, when the Sea returned to its original condition, suddenly, it was really a sea, a real sea. Now its water was really water. When Moshiach is coming, “kamayim layam mechasim” (as water covers the sea) – the waters of the Red Sea, such deep waters, waters that are ready to change to save peoples lives.
Who was the first person who did something awesome for somebody else? Our mother, Rachel. Imagine if Rachel would have called up Agudas HaRabbanim and said: “Listen, my father, Laban, is putting my sister Leah under the chuppah instead of me. What should I do? Should I give her the simanim (signs)?” They would answer: “You are crazy Chas veshalom!”
Rachel and Leah, together they established the family of Israel.
Everybody knows that when they carried the aron (casket) of Yosef the Tzadik to the Red Sea, the Sea split. Because of Yosef. Yosef, the son of Rachel. I think it was also because of Rachel. When Yosef came to the Sea, he said:
“You know how much my mother changed for her sister? She gave up everything. And you don’t want to give up being a sea for a few minutes? The Gemara says that the moment that the aron (casket) of Yosef came, “hayam raah vayanos” (the Sea saw and fled). What did it see? It saw the aron of Yosef.
I want to say one more thing. I want to say the deepest Torah. When Yosef the Tzadik made peace with his brothers, can you imagine how much he changed himself over? A thousand times. Not to be angry. Every person, for himself, is so angry. If someone insults you, it takes away twenty-two years of your life. Some great rabbis say that the greatest thing Yosef the Tzadik did was that he withstood the test of Potiphar’s wife. He didn’t give in to that temptation. Who am I to say this; maybe I am wrong, but my theory is that the greatest thing Yosef the Tzadik ever did was to forgive his brothers.
Why do we talk so much about the trial of Yosef? Rav Nachman of Breslov says that each time you do something wrong, you hate one person. Each time you do an aveirah (sin), you hate somebody. And whom do you hate? Somebody you know. It’s clear to me that all these people, all these fruma (religious) people who hate people who aren’t religious, have a problem. What’s their problem? They did an aveirah, and therefore, they hate somebody. They hang their aveirah on someone who doesn’t keep Shabbos.
Hatred comes from an aveirah. Take Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchov. Why didn’t he hate anybody? Because he never did an aveirah. Why did the Ba’al Shem Tov not hate anybody? For the same reason.
Now I want to say the deepest depths. When you see a Jew who hates another Jew, the problem is not the Jew who doesn’t keep Shabbos. The problem is the Jew who thinks he keeps Shabbos. He must be doing aveirot (sins) left and right, when nobody is looking. Rav Nachman says that if you learn Torah and you don’t understand it, then obviously, you don’t love Jews, because if you love Jews, then the Torah loves you. The Torah does not allow you to understand it if you don’t like Jews.
I want to say something very deep. If Yosef would have sinned with Potiphar’s wife, he would have hated his brothers. There would have been no way for him to forgive his brothers. But, he was so strong, he didn’t sin, and so his heart was completely void of hatred. As much as he had a right to hate them – he didn’t.
Can you imagine the splitting of the Red Sea that Yosef was going through when he saw his brothers? The storm that must have been going on inside his soul! Gevalt, you are my brothers – gevalt, what you did to me. Then, when the moment came, when he was approached by his brother, Yehuda, when he stood next to Yehuda, and he suddenly realized – didn’t my mother change for her sister Leah? So, why can’t I change for my brother Yehuda? I will do what my mother did. “And Yosef could not restrain himself.”
Yehuda was ready to give up Olam Haba (the world to come) for his brother. But, splitting of the Red Sea is higher than that – to actually turn your self over inside; this is something else. So, between both of the, they both built the house of, the family of, G-d.
What happens to most of us when we have a gevalt moment? We go back to where we were before we had it. Jews go to shul on Yom Kippur, have a wonderful experience, and then go back to the way they were before Yom Kippur. “The Sea returned to its original strength” – you know how the Sea went back? Not to where it was before it split. It went back to the splitting all the time. The Sea was still connected, every second, to its splitting.
All of us have moments when we give everything up. But, then we forget them. They are not connected to our daily life. This condition that G-d makes with us, of the splitting of the Red Sea, has to be every second in our lives. Every minute, every second.
Everybody knows that the Temple was destroyed because we hated one another. When we crossed the Red Sea, the Jews saw a vision of the Temple, of Moshiach. What do we need to make us stop hating one another? If only every Jew would say, I’m ready, for the sake of another Jew, to be something else.”
There is a Torah from the holy Alexanderer. Somebody told him that everything in the world should be utilized in the service of G-d. He said: “There is such a thing as not believing in G-d. How then can I utilize apikorsut (heresy) in the service of G-d? It’s very simple. When a Jew comes to ask a favor, don’t give him brachot (blessings). Don’t tell him, believe in G-d, and He will help you. Be an apikores! Help him yourself!”
I want to add to that. “Apikorsus” means, a Jew has to say, for you, I am even ready not to believe in G-d for a moment. To be close to you, I’ll do anything in the world. Can I ever be closer to G-d than if, for one second, chas veshalom, by not being so close to G-d, I am being close to another Jew?
Okay, everybody knows that the children were the first to say: “This is my G-d, and I will glorify Him.” At the splitting of the Red Sea, the children were the highest. The truth is it’s always my theory that as much as parents think we love our children the most, they really love us the most. Because we give up on our children so fast, but they never give up on us. We may be the biggest creeps in the world, and they still love us. Little children believe that their parents are the best people in the world. For our children, we are willing to turn over a thousand times. The Gemara says that finding your soul mate is like crossing the Red Sea, because, to find your soul mate, means to have children, and you cannot have children unless you are ready to turn over a thousand times for them. For my children, there is nothing in the world I will not do. I’ll be water, I’ll be dry land, I’ll be anything.
There is nobody in the world more ready to be anything than children. They have no set formula. They are not yet water; they are not yet dry land. So, when we crossed the Red Sea, the children felt most at home. Suddenly, when they crossed the Red Sea, they saw that all the Jews were like children – no set form, no schedule. That’s why they felt at home.
Everybody knows that, in prophecy, the prophet must be the vessel for the prophecy. Every prophet has different words for the same prophecy. By the splitting of the Red Sea, we are told: “The prophet Yechezkiel ben Buzzi didn’t see what even the handmaiden saw at the splitting of the Red Sea.” Because, they were infinite, infinite.
I want to make it so clear that, unless you are ready to cross the Red Sea for every Jew in the world, you cannot have a Moshiach vision.
Rav Aaron Karliner says a beautiful Torah. When G-d said to the Red Sea: “You are going to split open for the Jews”. The Sea said to G-d: “Can You show me the Jews that I’ll be splitting open for?” G-d showed it the Jews the way they looked in heaven. They looked holy and beautiful and clean. When the Sea saw the Jews standing before it, looking so tired and so broken, it said: “These are not the people I am supposed to split open for!” It was so hard to convince the Sea that those were the people.
I want to add to this. When they call out in heaven, forty days before a person is born, the male and female souls say: “Can you show me the other one?” They are shown the pure souls. Then, in this world, they don’t recognize each other. They say: “This is not my Yankele! This is not my Chanele!”
Here is an unbelievable, heartbreaking story. A true story. An awesome story. There was a young Chassidic man in Cracow, who was engaged to a very beautiful girl. When the Germans came, he was taken away and he didn’t know where his bride was. In Aushwitz, the men and women were separated, but, somehow, from afar, they could see each other. Sometimes they broke through the gates. One night, close to the end of the war, suddenly he saw his bride on the women’s side. Unbelievable. They were blessing each other: “Hold out! The end is near. Please, hold out until the end.” one way or another, they sent food to each other. When the Russians came and freed them, somehow they met, and they went off together. Everything was bombed. Finally, they found one house and
they were, for the first time, alone. They were so happy to be alone. He had not seen himself in a mirror for years. He didn’t know what he looked like. He had no hair, no payot (sidecurls). He was full of scars. Covered with blood. But, even more heartbreaking, she was clean shaven. She had no hair. She had no teeth. Her face was full of scars. They had not seen themselves for so long. They came into the house and suddenly, they looked into a mirror. They were shocked, especially the girl. She said: “This is the way I look! Not even the Angel of Death looks so bad.” She said: “Tell me two things. How did you recognize me? And, how can you love somebody who looks like I look?”
You know what he said to her? “You never looked more beautiful to me than right at this moment.”
This means that there is some kind of beauty which is produced in heaven and I hope we should keep it and there is the crossing of the Red Sea kind of beauty. “This is my G-d, and I will glorify Him.” The Jews suddenly saw that there are two kinds of beauty. There is one that comes down from heaven and one that is made by man. The Ribbono Shel Olam makes us love each other so much that, behind all the brokenness, behind all that we go through, we recognize each other – we see how beautiful we are.
If someone wants to know how beautiful G-d is, he must know how beautiful Jews are.
I want to say one more thing. This is an Ishbitzer Torah. The Torah says: “And Jethro heard…” Rashi, on that phrase, says he heard about the splitting of the Red Sea and the war with Amalek. Jethro thought: “How can I, a goy, change to become a Jew?” So, when he heard that the Sea changed, he said: “If the Sea can change for G-d, I can also change.”
What is Amalek all about? Amalek tells that the change won’t last. On Yom Kippur, you go to shul, you stand before G-d for a moment, but it won’t last. Why did Amalek blow his mind over the splitting of the Red Sea? Because, when we went through, we had a vision of Moshiach. It was not a one minute vision. It was eternal. And, we also had a vision that one day the whole world, not only Jews, will recognize G-d, “kamayim layam mecahsim” (as water covers the sea).