the process of redemption, we find two stages; the ten plagues,
followed by the climax, the splitting of the Red Sea. Why was it
necessary to go through two stages. Surely Hashem could do what
he wants, wouldn't ten plagues suffice?
In Chapter 14 verse 31, the
Torah states, "The Jews saw the great hand of Hashem in Egypt,
and the people revered Hashem, and they had faith in Hashem and
in Moshe, his servant." At this point in time, the Jews were
standing by the sea, what does it mean they saw the great hand of
Hashem in Egypt?
There are two fundamental
principles of faith in Hashem. Firstly, that He created the world.
Secondly, after creation, that He is still in touch with the world
& guides it behind the scenes. The first stage of faith was
reached in Egypt with the ten plagues. There is a God that is omnipotent.
One might still ask, does He really know everything that is going
on in the world now? Is he paying attention to every detail?
When the Egyptians were drowning,
the Jews were singing a song of praise to Hashem, describing the
justice done to their enemies. Rashi (chap 15 verse 8) points out
there are three different descriptions of the drowning of the Egyptians,
like stone, like lead, and like straw, each one representing different
punishments to different groups of people. The most wicked ones
drowned like straw, stirring about, rising and descending before
dying. The average ones drowned like stone. The relatively decent
ones drowned like lead, they sunk and died immediately.
After witnessing how each
Egyptian received exactly what he deserved according to his level
of wickedness, it becomes undoubtedly clear that Hashem pays attention
to every detail that goes on. Each person was repaid measure for
measure, according to their wickedness.
To resolve the original question,
why did it need to be this way? Could not everything have been accomplished
all at once?
Our sages tell us that in
Egypt we, as a nation sunk to a very low level. We worshipped idols
just like the Egyptians. To suddenly snap back to a strong belief
in Hashem was not realistic. The change had to be gradual, a little
bit at a time until that faith became an integral part of us. Once
that was accomplished we realized our goal of as the nation of Israel
ready to accept the Torah and continue its study and observance
throughout the generations.
Published and © Jan 20, 1997 by the Chicago Community Kollel