By A. Cohen

Last week’s Torah portion was Parshat Beshalach. This portion is famous because of the miracles G-d did for the Jews at the Sea of the Reeds. G-d split the sea for the Jews allowing them to safely pass on DRY land, while the Egyptians, who were in hot pursuit, were swallowed up and never seen again. There were many miracles that occurred during the splitting of the sea and afterwards on their journey through the desert. What’s peculiar about all this, is that this whole “splitting of the sea” seems completely unnecessary! If you look at a map, the quickest way to the Land of Israel is to walk straight across; not going down, backtracking and around to then stand in front of the Reed Sea. Why did Moses lead the Jews in a very roundabout way, instead of on the most direct path to Israel? What lesson can we learn from this narrative and apply to our daily lives?

Leaving Egypt was not easy. The Jews were slaves for a long time (210 years to be exact), and as hard as their lives were, they adjusted and got used to the suffering of slavery. They had what’s called: the slave mentality, which is very hard to break. To pick up and leave the only life you knew for the complete unknown, takes a lot of courage and trust. Therefore, G-d lead the Jews on a much longer path. He wanted it to take a long time to reach their final destination, so that when the “going gets tough,” they couldn’t easily give up and return to Egypt; to their old way of life as slaves.

This is very relevant to all of us. As we journey through life, we are constantly confronting changes, whether it’s a new job, purchase of a house, marriage, spiritual growth, etc. Change is very difficult, no matter what the situation, and all beginnings are hard. It’s very easy to allow doubt to creep in and allow you to revert back to the old way of thinking and being. The key to getting past the initial difficulties is to stay steadfast with your decision, push away any doubt, and know that if the decision was made for the right reason, you will be successful.

The previous week’s portion discussed the exodus from Egypt; leaving all self imposed restrictions and limitations. That theme continues. Not only do we need to leave anything that is holding us back from moving forward, we need to not let all that has already happened to creep back in and take over.

When you take a ‘leap of faith’, really leap! Do not just take one step at a time, as it is easy to go back. Put your heart, mind and soul into the decision and know that you will be successful. The same way the sea split for the Jews when the Egyptians were chasing them. All they had to do was keep moving forward and the sea split. So too with each of us. If we keep moving towards our goal, our “sea” will split!

May all be blessed with the strength to take leaps of faith in our lives that will continually bring us to higher and higher heights.

This blog is for last week’s Torah Portion (Beshalach – 15 Shevat, 5777 – Feb. 11, 2016).