In this week’s Torah portion, Beshalach, we read of the different opinions among the Jews when they were faced with the Red Sea in front and the approach of the powerful Egyptian army from behind.
“Let us drown in the Sea,” cried one group of Jews. “We must return to Egypt,” declared another camp. A third party suggested waging war. The last opinion was to pray, putting everything in G-d’s “hands.”
Moshe spoke to each of these groups, explaining to them the folly of their suggestions. And he gave them the only possible solution to the seemingly impossible situation.
“We have been commanded by G-d to go forward. We must travel on to Mount Sinai where we will receive the Torah and thus bring light to the world. This is the whole reason for our exodus from Egypt.”
The suggestion of each of the four groups can be interpreted according to its simplest meaning and also according to Chasidut.
Drowning in the sea can also be understood as drowning in the sea of Torah, totally immersing in spirituality without consideration for our mission of elevating the physicality of the world.
The intent of those who suggested surrendering and going back to Egypt, was that they would study Torah and observe mitzvot in Egypt, spreading holiness and purity to that immoral nation. However, being forced into this compromise, the mitzvot performed there would not have been carried out with joy and enthusiasm.
Fighting, too, was not an appropriate option. Firstly, it was recommended by those whose natural instincts were to be aggressive, not out of a higher motive. In addition, the mission at hand was to bring light into the world and this can never be achieved through fighting.
One might think that the last option, praying and putting oneself totally in G-d’s hands, was the best. However, here, too, there is a problem. For just praying means giving the matter over to G-d without any effort on your part to rectify the situation.
As we can see, each option has its own good points and drawbacks.
The major drawback for each suggestion, however, is that they were not in keeping with G-d’s command to the Jews to go forward, despite obstacles and seeming impossibilities. The Jews were being commanded to do something that went beyond their nature, beyond their intellect.
And by following G-d’s command, they would not only merit the splitting of the Red Sea as a nation, but each individual would breaks through his own person al Red Sea after which he can receive the Divine revelation at Mount Sinai.
This above explanation is based on a talk of the Rebbe 71 years ago, on the tenth of Shevat–the yahrtzeit of the previous Rebbe and the anniversary of the beginning of the leadership of the Rebbe, shlita. For, we have been given a command from G-d via the Moses of our generation, the Rebbe. “The Redemption is imminent. Be prepared to greet Moshiach.” Moshiach NOW!!!
The response to the Rebbe’s message has been as diverse as the opinions of the Jews at the Red Sea. And yet, in truth, there is only one viable and appropriate response: to follow G-d’s command and move forward by studying about Moshiach and the Redemption, by increasing our performance of mitzvot and by living with the imminent redemption as a reality in our lives.
May we merit very soon that the Rebbe lead us to the final Redemption, NOW!