Practical Teachings from the Yam Suf (Sea of End)

This is from an article on the kabbalaonline web site.

Chapter 14 of Exodus is the location of the 72 Names of God. There are also many spiritual teachings associated with the verses leading up to Verses 19 - 21 where the 72 Names are revealed in a coded manner. One of these teachings is in Verse 13. This verse gives us very practical directions as to how to live our lives, as you come to understand.

Let us put the verse in perspective.

The Children of Israel were between a rock and a hard place. They were standing without rafts in front of the Sea of Reeds and the Egyptians were breathing down their necks. The midrash tells us that the sea was in front and wild animals were on either side with Pharaoh and his chariots being kept at bay by the Pillar of Fire. Four factions developed, each with another plan of action:

  1. "Let us drown ourselves in the sea." (chanoch explains:It is better to die than be a slave in Egypt.)
  2. "Let us surrender and return to Egypt." (chanoch adds: This is the opposite of the first group of people. It is better to live than to die even as a slave in Egypt.)
  3. "Let us wage war against them." (chanoch explains: Even though we will lose let us die as free people. )
  4. "Let us pray." (chanoch adds: While this sounds good there can not be unity among people since some do not think that prayer works. Also HaShem tells Moshe in Verse 15 Why are you crying/praying to me?)

Our task - that of the Children of Israel - is to sanctify ourselves and the entire world one step at a time. These steps may not be vertical or logical steps. Even so, these steps do follow an order that is real and valid.

Let us look at this verse from a Kabbalistic Perspective

"But Moses said to the people…." (Ex. 14:13)

ויאמר משה אל-העם אל-תיראו התיצבו וראו את-ישועת יהוה אשר-יעשה לכם היום כי אשר ראיתם את-מצרים היום לא תספו לראתם עוד עד-עולם


Vmr mshh l-h'm l-trv httzvv vrv t-shv't adonai shr-'shh lchm hvm ch shr rtm t-mtzrm hvm l tsfv lrtm vd d-'vlm


And Moses said unto the people: 'Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will work for you to-day; for whereas ye have seen the Egyptians to-day, ye shall see them again no more forever.

Kabbalistic Analysis - from chanoch's Commentary

This Verse has 27 words which relate it to all of the energy of the Hebrew Letters including the Final Letter forms. It has 96 letters which is written the Hebrew Word Tzav - צו . This word translates as "command" and the Zohar tells us that it relates to idol worship. We will discuss the full understanding of these facts below.

Moshe answered each of the 4 groups with different words yet all of the answers were similar; let go and let HaShem do his work. See what the Kabbalists teach us about the code of these answers.

  1. To the first group Moshe said: "Stand firm and witness the deliverance that G‑d will perform for you today [do not jump into the sea].
  2. To the second group Moshe said: For the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see again [do not return to Egypt]. On the recording- Even today it is a mitzvah not to go to Egypt.
  3. To the third group Moshe said: "G‑d will do battle for you" [do not wage war against them];
  4. To the fourth group Moshe said: "You shall remain silent [do not pray]."
    1. What then were they to do?

      chanoch's Commentary

      In our own lives, our reactions mirror these 4 groups. At every point in our lives these 4 alternatives present themselves. What are we to do? Especially when we do not know what to do?

      Moshe said that HaShem said - "Let them journey forth! [continue on the path to Sinai and all will be well]."(Midrash Mechilta)

      At times we wish…shut our eyes to the darkness around us….

      These four factions reflect four erroneous attitudes that we, too, might adopt in our confrontation with darkness:

      1. At times we wish to "jump into the sea," to immerse ourselves in the pure waters of Torah and prayer and shut our eyes to the darkness around us.
      2. At times we do better. We say, "Let us return to Egypt" - we will deal with the darkness, but as slaves. We resign ourselves to our fate of living in a dark world and do our job without hope.
      3. Even better is when we say, "Let us wage war" - we feel the power of light and wish to conquer the dark Pharaohs of our world. But when G‑d instructs us to go to Sinai it is not time to do battle. Furthermore, the motives for such battle are questionable: Do they stem from a commitment to goodness or from a desire to fight?
      4. The fourth path is the highest: "Let us pray." During prayer we are one with G‑d and totally selfless. We wish to fulfill His desires. We would not think of secluding ourselves from the world or losing hope that light will ultimately prevail. We would not think of waging self-strategized wars not commanded by G‑d. But prayer is inactive and this too is not the path.

      Journey forth! G‑d tells us to continue on our path to Sinai, to bring ourselves and the world around us to the Torah one mitzvah at a time.

      The common denominator among the four factions was that their plan of action originated in their own human psyche. They lacked the absolute surrender to the divine consciousness that would have allowed them to hear the voice of G‑d. When one reaches the level of absolute surrender and "travels forth," the sea is split - that which is hidden becomes revealed. The deepest dimension of the soul, the aspect that is absolutely one with G‑d is manifest.

      However, when action is necessary, prayer is the wrong response….

      There is indeed a time for prayer. In a personal sense it is the highest form of connection to G‑d. However, when action is necessary prayer is the wrong response. When the sea is waiting to be split, when G‑d demands forward movement, it is no time to stop and worry about personal levels of connectedness. This lesson continues to resound in today's day and age. There are people in the "streets" who need help; they are waiting for their personal splitting of the sea.

      The sea is home to as much or more life than on dry land. The major difference is that its life forms are concealed by the water. There comes a point in every person's life when they must "split the sea," meaning that they must be able to see beyond the physical trappings and recognize the all-pervading G‑dly vitality that is the source of all life. Every person has the capability to do so; all that is needed is the will. And often assisting another in this process enables one to accomplish it for him/herself as well.

      This indeed is G‑d's message: Now is a time for action. Sequestering oneself in a synagogue, as personally fulfilling as it may be, is not the proper approach. It is necessary to go "out there," to "journey forth," and "help ensure that the entire world joins in the victorious march through the challenges of the "Sea of Reeds" to the final and complete redemption.

      chanoch's Commentary

      All of the above is nice and intriguing yet it does not answer the question, "What do i do now?"

      The 4 categories are helpful to put our particular issue into perspective. What is our reaction? Which of these 4 groups is our reaction. What do we want to do? Once we are clear as to which category we can start to evaluate the why of that reaction. Our reactions are there to teach us spiritual lessons, if we are willing to look at these reactions for what they are - hints to our spiritual growth.

      Any time we react to an event - whether it is a thought or a physical item - we are an effect of that event. We are in this world to be co-creators not effects of other entities creations. Reread this sentence until you truly understand its truth. You came here to be a cause not an effect. Once you are a cause then you do nothing and as Moshe said, "See the salvation that HaShem will do for you. You will never see the Egyptian - meaning the limitation - again."

      Many times we have heard the expression - "I want to do the will of HaShem!" What is the will of HaShem? What does He want you to do? Ultimately as is said above he wants you to pray to God, does He not? In my opinion, this is a corruption of religion. It is not true.

      You are a creation of HaShem who has a specific aspect of Creation for you to reveal. He created your desire to receive in such a way that you will desire to receive that aspect of Creation so that you are the vessel to reveal that aspect. Therefore, what you desire is what you are to receive in order that you reveal that aspect of the Creator in our physical world.

      This is a world of action and prayer is an action that is not the goal. Prayer serves the purpose of activating your intuition so that you know what is the internal aspect of your core desire. Ultimately you will learn to know what YOU want - then do nothing and let HaShem manifest that desire which is your will; which is actually the attribute for which you were created to reveal. In essence let go and let God.

      This is the practical lessons taught by the Parting of the Sea of Limitations - the Yam Suf

      [Adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Likutei Sicho

      t, vol. 3, p. 876 ff; Sichot Kodesh 5740, vol. 2, pp. 23-27; Copyright 2001 chabad of california /]