The Torah describes Bnei Yisroel’s crossing of the Red Sea twice: Once, before the Egyptians were drowning (“Bnei Yisroel came within the sea on dry land and the water was a wall for them …”). And later, when the Egyptians were no longer a threat (the Torah reiterates that the people “went on dry land in the midst of the sea.”). Why is it necessary to restate that Bnei Yisroel crossed through the sea on dry land?
The Noam Elimelech explains that when the Jews experienced the splitting of the Red Sea, some of them were so profoundly touched by the miracle. It became a permanent part of their psyche, to the point that they always felt surrounded by miracles — even when walking in relative safety, and amid calm on dry land. If we can internalize this, and make it part of our own psyches we too can be more like those tzaddikim,, who never forgot the miracles that took place during Krias Yam Suf.
The Toras Chaim explains further that this is why Chazal were מתקן the tefillah of Modim. In reality, we tend to take things for granted, as Hashem performs miracles for us at every moment. We have the strength to wake up, breathe, eat, walk, speak, and so much more. We should really be living in a constant state of gratitude, always praising Hashem for His infinite kindness. Since this is not practical, Chazal instituted a prayer that would be all-inclusive.
Monday is Tu B’Shvat, which is an excellent opportunity to enhance our gratitude, because fruits are a perfect example of Hashem’s gifts that have become routine parts of our lives, and are rarely appreciated as products of Hashem’s miracles and kindness. As you say brochos on the fruits, please take a moment with your children to focus on every facet of these great gifts from Hashem. And, we can all take a moment to remember that life itself is the greatest miracle of all.
Rabbi Gidon Goldberg
Head of School