In this week’s Torah portion, Beshalach, we read about the splitting of the Sea. This miracle prepared the Jewish people for the giving of the Torah and the Final Redemption.
Concerning the splitting of the sea, the Torah tells us about Nachshon ben Aminadav, who risked his life to jump into the Sea. It was only after Nachson entered the Sea that the waters parted and the Jews were able to proceed.
How could Nachshon disregard his life and jump into the sea? How could he not! For Nachshon knew that G-d had taken the Jewish people out of Egypt for the sole purpose of giving them His Torah at Mount Sinai. Nachshon was guided by the desire to advance toward the Torah. It mattered not to Nachshon that a body of water obstructed his path; he jumped into the Sea.
Faced with a seemingly impossible situation the Jewish people had been of several opinions. Nachshon, however, was uninterested in any of their “options” — returning, waging a battle or running away — for he knew that none of this would bring them closer to Mount Sinai. He was also not interested in arguments or calculations. There was only one solution: to go forward to Mount Sinai. And so he did so, with great mesiras nefesh (self-sacrifice).
The portion of Beshalach is generally read on the Shabbat preceding or following the 10th of Shevat, the anniversary of the passing of the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn. The circumstances surrounding the splitting of the Sea contain a timeless lesson; so do the actions of the Previous Rebbe. For throughout his life the Previous Rebbe acted with mesiras nefesh and set an example for all future generations.
The Previous Rebbe did not specifically seek out mesiras nefesh; this was not his intent, as his sole objective was to spread Torah. The Rebbe didn’t stop to consider if self-sacrifice was necessary, nor did he pay attention to the prevailing opinions and views of the other Jews of his time. To him, their arguments carried no weight at all. The only thing that motivated the Previous Rebbe was the need to get closer to Mount Sinai. Even if a “sea” stood in his way, he would jump in. What would happen next? That was G-d’s concern, not his. This was immaterial to the Previous Rebbe. He simply did what he had to in order to reach Mount Sinai.
From this, we learn a lesson to apply in our daily lives. Our function on earth is to serve G-d, to love His creations and bring them closer to Torah. Differences in opinion and approach are not our concern. Our only true goal is to draw nearer to Mount Sinai and to do so without consideration for anything else.