In Exodus 14 we have the story of the Children of Israel crossing the Red Sea by the mighty hand of HaShem and Moshe as the mediator to divide the waters so the Jewish people could cross over. This story should tell us much of ourselves.
The term עִברִי (Ivri) has multiple meanings. It means “to cross over” it means “to break through the spiritual barrier” and it also represents the start of Jewish conversion which is also known as עִברִי. But let’s analyze this story and see what is happening here.
“And when Pharaoh drew near, the Bnei Yisroel lifted up their eyes, and, hinei, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were very terrified; and the Bnei Yisroel cried out unto Hashem.”
(Exodus 14:10; The Orthodox Jewish Bible)
Our sages say in Arachin 16b that if a person goes 40 days and 40 nights without trial or tribulation they may have lost their share in the world to come. Kiddushin 40b tells us that the righteous receive tribulations in order to merit a lofty place in the world the come. This sounds reminiscent of what we read in Brit Chadasha.
“Because from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. Lo HaKavod l'Olamim. Omein. (" To Him be glory forever. Amen.")”
(Romans 11:36; The Orthodox Jewish Bible)
We can all look through our lives and see times of trouble, of trial and tribulation we can find ourselves pleading with G-d over the situations brought forth to us. When we are at our times of weakness, our hearts of stone becomes a heart of flesh. During that time we gain comfort from Ruach HaKodesh, and we are more susceptible to G-d.
Think of the story of Jacob and Esau:
And the nearim grew: and Esav was a skilled hunter, an ish sadeh; and Ya'akov was an ish tam (quiet man), dwelling in ohalim. And Yitzchak loved Esav, because he did eat of his wild game; but Rivkah loved Ya'akov. And Ya'akov cooked stew: and Esav came from the sadeh, and he was famished. And Esav said to Ya'akov, Let me eat now some of the adom (red stew); for I am famished; therefore was shmo called Edom. And Ya'akov said, First sell me today thy bechorah (birthright, right of the firstborn). And Esav said, Hinei, I am at the point of death; and what profit shall this bechorah do to me? And Ya'akov said, Swear to me this day; and he swore unto him; and he sold his bechorah unto Ya'akov. Then Ya'akov gave Esav lechem and adashim (lentils) stew; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way; thus Esav despised his bechorah.
(Genesis 25:27-34; The Orthodox Jewish Bible)
We see an antithesis to this story in the Gospels:
Then Yeshua was led up into the midbar by the Ruach Hakodesh of Hashem to undergo nisyonos (temptations) by Hasatan. And, having undergone a tzom (fast) for arbaim yom varbaim lailah (forty days and forty nights), afterward Yeshua was famished. And the tempter came to him and said to him, If you are the Ben HaElohim, then speak the command that these avanim (stones) become lechem (bread). But Yeshua answered, Katuv (It is written), Lo a halechem lvodah ycheyeh Haadam, Ki al kol motzah fi hashem. (Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of Hashem), Then Hasatan takes Rebbe, Yeshha to the Ir Hakodesh (the Holy City) and set him atop the pinnacle of the Beis Hamikdash, and says to Yeshua, If you are the Ben HaElohim, then throw yourself down, for katuv (it is written),malachav ytzav veh lach (His angels he will command concerning you) and upon their hands they will lift you up lest you strike your foot against a stone. Yeshua said to Hasatan, Again, it is written, lo tenassu es HaShem Eloheichem (Do not test Hashem your G-d). Again, Hasatan takes Yeshha to a very high mountain and shows him all the mamlechot (kingdoms) of the Olam Hazeh and the kavod (glory) of them. And Hasatan said to Yeshua, All these things I will give to you, if you will fall down v’tiahtachaveh (and you will bow down to) me. Then Yeshua says to him, Depart, Hasatan! For katuv (it is written), es HaShem Eloheicha Tira voto ta’avod (The L-rd your G-d you shall fear and Him you shall worship) Then Hasatan leaves him, and, hinei, malachim came and attended to Yeshua.
(Matthew 4:1-11; The Orthodox Jewish Bible)
Here we see both the Messiah, and Essau desperately hungry, desperate for food. We see a different reaction however. We see that Essau takes the first offer given to him out of desperation. And we see the Mashiach has his sights focused upon the Creator of Heaven and earth. Essau gave up something holy (his birthright) for soup. Some look at the passage from Malachi and say “this is kinda harsh”.
V’ohav es Ya’akov v’es Esav saneiti (Ya'akov have I loved, but Esau have I hated).
(Malachi 1:3; The Orthodox Jewish Bible)
The reason this is said is because it was not the actions persay. But the evil of the soul that was rooted in the here and now, the finite physical world and not the things of HaShem. For some reason Essau thought that HaShem was not gonna sustain him, thus He didn’t look to HaShem, instead he came to Jacob and sold his birthright, essentially spitting in the face of G-d and essentially saying to G-d “you are not here for me”. Yet HaShem put oxygen in his lungs, gave him the rain for water, gave him food all around him for his consumption. He was like the angry child who curses his parents and say that his room is not big enough to fit a movie theater into, and yet he feels entitled to have a 100 seat movie theater in his bedroom. But in terms of the Mashiach it was different. 40 days, His sights were upon HaShem. This is when the breakthrough begins. This is when someone is considered עִברִי. When they have broken that spiritual barrier and have had that change of heart, and they choose to live for HaShem.
As we continue one in the story:
“And Moshe said unto HaAm, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the Yeshuat Hashem, which He will bring to you today; for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more ad olam. Hashem shall fight for you, and ye shall keep still.”
(Exodus 14:13-14; The Orthodox Jewish Bible)
The Mechilta says in terms of Exodus 14:13-14:
“While standing at the edge of the sea, terrified by the advancing Egyptians, the Jews broke into four camps, each advocating a different course of action. The first camp said: "Lets plunge into the sea," preferring to drown themselves than return to Egypt. The second camp said: "Let's return to Egypt," willing to accept the yoke of bondage again. The third camp said: "Let's wage war against them” hoping that they would be victorious. The fourth camp said: "Let's cry out to God” appealing to God in prayer.”
So we had different camps offering up different solutions to the situation. Each of them signify where they were spiritually. Who and what their reliance was upon and was the rest to see if they had truly chosen a life for HaShem or if they just wanted to be a part of the outcast cool kids busting out of Egypt. Their spiritual condition was exposed at this time of either being likened unto Mashiach or likened unto Essau.
As the story goes they crossed the Red Sea, and then what happens? They travel for 40 years. Through this time as we will see in Parshas Yitro we will find them building a golden calf while the Torah was being given. We will see them make several missteps along the way. We will see them preparing for the Promised Land.
As we progress we read in verse 21:
“Then Moshe stretched out his yad over the yam; and Hashem caused the yam to go back by a strong east wind all that night, so that the yam was made dry land, and the mayim were divided.”
(Exodus 14:21; The Orthodox Jewish Bible)
Earning a livelihood is as difficult as the Splitting of the Sea
"Towards morning, the sea returned to its strength"—"morning" corresponds to Abraham, and thus to kindness and love. When a religious Jew engages in business honestly, he fulfills the mitzvah to "Love God" (Deuteronomy 6:5) in the sense that he "makes God beloved to others," since they associate his religiosity with ethical behavior (Yoma 86a). Having tuned into the resonance of "love," this Jew is also in tune with the unforced dynamic of the sea as it returns to its natural state. Therefore he, too, can earn a living in an effortless, unforced manner.” (Likutey Moharan i. 210).
“If someone truly wants to perform a mitzvah, he will certainly face obstacles. Yet he can overcome them all if he truly desires. For example, let's say he decides to travel to the Holy Land. If he arrives at the port and there is no ship- or if he has no money left to pay his fare, nevertheless, if he truly desires he will see see miracles happen that allow him to complete the mitzvah and make the trip In certain ways. these miracles are as great as those that accompanied the Splitting of the Sea. Though that miracle was very great, it lasted only for a short time. If a person opens his eyes to the Divine Providence that brought him to where he is today, he will clearly see God's guiding hand every week and even every day! (Likutey Halakhot I, p. 142a-284).
It is complete and utter trust in Hashem with a responsibility attached. In the Talmud it mentions “to make a livelihood”. For we read in Brit Chadasha:
“For the Kitvei HaKodesh says, lo tachsom shor bedisho ("You shall not muzzle the ox while he is treading out the grain"), and "Worthy is the workman of his wages."
(1 Timothy 5:18; The Orthodox Jewish Bible)
The reason why “livelihood” is mentioned we can see through product of the salvation given to a person. There is then a job to do, there is a product that must be produced, which is referred to as pri tov (good fruit). What is this good fruit? Well, it is a part of the “works” propagated in iggaret ya’akov (letter of Jacob/James). The “works” that are a part of the product of our salvation. And it goes beyond mitzvos. This is even said by our Mashiach, who said:
“For I say unto you that unless the Tzedek (Righteousness) of you exceeds that of the Sofrim and Perushim, you will certainly not enter the Malchut HaShomayim.”
(Matthew 5:20; The Orthodox Jewish Bible)
Now I don’t see the OJB as a being a primary source for the New Testament because Phil Goble tends to insert Hebrew variances into the Greek text in terms of the New Testament. But I find it interesting he uses the term מִצִּדְק and Franz Delitzsch has מִצִּדְקַת both mean the same thing and they are the words for “righteous” or “righteousness” but they are also the word for “charity”. Was Yeshua propagating the same idea in the original Aramaic?
In the Aramaic Khabouris Codex, we get a greater scope through the word kinuthkun (ܟ݁ܺܐܢܽܘܬ݂ܟ݂ܽܘܢ) where the later Hebrew has מִצִּדְקַת. The word ܟ݁ܺܐܢܽܘܬ݂ܟ݂ܽܘܢ in Aramaic means “righteousness, uprightness, charity, godliness, rectitude, and justice.” In both of these Semitic forms of the gospels we see something that is less about the idea of how many mitzvos, chukim, and mishpatim are fulfilled in terms of Torah law. But it is more of a change in self and a giving of one’s self over to the Creator. When one gives themselves over to HaShem what essentially happens is a person then has a focus on the Malchut HaShamayim (Kingdom of Heaven) as opposed to the things of the world. There is a transformation.
Now this transformation is not instant. As the transformation of the children of Israel wasn’t instant, they suffered many trials and tribulations from the external and the internal they had to battle before they made their way into the land of Israel. Thus is the same with our lives. Perfection is not gonna be obtained. Fulfillment of all mitzvos will never happen, but with each trial. With each time we come to the Red Sea and we feel as though certain death is imminent we are offered a choice. A death to self? Or a death to the constriction by the constriction? Esau, and some of the Jews chose a death to the constriction of the world, and the limits of it. However, some of the Jews and Moshe chose the death of self in terms of the words of the Satan speaking to them and saying “you are constricted”. Trust in HaShem, acts of tzedakah, a death of self and the voice of the serpent, which is our own yetzer hara (evil inclination) is what gives us a clearer vision when faced with trial and tribulation and it allows us to cross the Red Sea.