Parshas Bishalach:
The Song at the Sea - Past and Future

by Rabbi Chaim Gross

    Our sages teach us that each Jewish holiday contains within it both the spiritual experience of the past and a taste of the future to come. The classic example of this is Shabbos. It is simultaneously referred to in Kiddush as both a remembrance of Creation and a semblance of the World to Come.

    The seventh day of Passover commemorates the splitting of the sea. Where here do we find a connection to both the past and the future?

    The Torah tells us, "And they (Adam and Eve) heard the voice of G-d 'mis-ha-lech' in the Garden of Eden…" (Genesis 3:8) on which the Midrash comments, "Rabbi Aba bar Kahana said, walking is not written here, rather mis-ha-lech -leaping and ascending. The purpose of creation is that the Divine Presence dwell among us in this world. When Adam sinned the Divine Presence ascended to the first level of Heaven." The Midrash continues that subsequently, six more sins, those of Cain, the generations of Enosh, the Flood and the Tower of Babel, Sodom and the Egyptians caused the Divine Presence to ascend to the seventh level of Heaven. Then seven righteous people brought the Divine Presence back down, Avrohom, Yitzchok, Yaakov, Levi, K'has(Levi's son), Amram and Moshe.

    When did Moshe and the Jewish people re-achieve that original level of Adam in the Garden of Eden?

    Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe offers a beautiful answer based on a verse in this week's Song of the Sea. "This is my G-d and I will praise Him." Our Sages comment that "a lowly maidservant saw G-d at the sea in a way that the great prophet Ezekiel never saw Him." Rabbi Wolbe explains as follows. The prophets would sanctify themselves and ascend unto Heaven to experience the Divine Presence whereas at the splitting of the sea on the seventh day of Passover, a maidservant was able to experience the Divine Presence down here in the material world. The spiritual reality of the Garden of Eden was revealed here in this physical world. It was so clear that they could point and say, "This is my G-d."

    This Eden-like experience lived on in Jewish history for some 1,000 years through the First Temple period. Rav Wolbe continues, "one who entered the Temple felt as if he ascended alive into Heaven Temple unified Heaven and Earth." As for the relationship between the seventh of Passover and the future, our sages cite the first words of the Song at the Sea as a source for the concept of eternal life in the World to Come. Ultimately, in the World to Come, the righteous will dance around the Divine Presence again, pointing and saying, "Behold, this is our G-d." Thus, we will have come full circle, the Garden of Eden, the splitting of the sea on the seventh of Passover and eternal life in the World to Come. May we merit to see this speedily, in our days. Good Shabbos.


Published and İFebruary 5, 1998 by the Chicago Community Kollel


Rabbi Chaim Gross was the first director of development and outreach. He continues to be a frequent participant at Kollel activities. If you have any questions or comments about this week's Parsha Encounters Please email him at



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