Food For the Soul
The 7th Day of Passover
The seventh and eighth days of Passover are celebrated as Yom Tov, holidays, capping the weeklong celebration that begins with the first Seder. In Israel, only the seventh day is celebrated. The final days of Passover 2021 begin before sunset on April 2 and end after nightfall on April 4.
What happened on the seventh day of Pesach?
The children of Israel left Egypt, where they had served as slaves for generations. Despite his original stubborn refusal, after 10 debilitating plagues, Pharaoh relented and allowed Israel to leave Egypt for a three-day spiritual retreat in the desert. Three days later, when the Israelites failed to return, Pharaoh realized that they were gone for good, safely on their way to independence and freedom in the Promised Land. He bridled his best warhorse and called his nation to join him in pursuit of his erstwhile slaves. After a short chase, the Egyptian army caught up with the Israelites at the banks of the red sea. The Israelites were trapped; there was nowhere to go but into the sea.
Then G-d commanded Moses to raise his staff and the sea split, allowing the Israelites to comfortably cross on dry land. When the Egyptians attempted to follow the Israelites across, the sea came crashing down on them. Chariots, riders and horses all perished in the churning sea. Overwhelmed with gratitude, Moses led the Israelites in singing the Song of the Sea. Miriam led the women in an additional song of thanks, accompanied by tambourines and drums. This miracle took place in the wee hours of the morning of the Seventh of Passover.
Rabbi Menachem Posner
Learn more about the seventh and eighth days of Passover on Chabad.org
“The wolf will dwell with the lamb…”
The seventh and eighth days of Passover are full holidays where we do no work, other than certain acts connected to food preparation. We recite holiday prayers, and women and girls light candles on the eve of both days. Many people have the custom to remain awake the entire night preceding the seventh day of Passover, studying Torah as a way of thanking G-d for the miracle of splitting the Red Sea. During the morning services of the eighth day, Yizkor memorial prayers are recited for departed relatives.
The eighth day of Pesach is traditionally associated with our hopes for the coming of Moshiach. For this reason, the haftorah read on that day contains many prophecies which refer to the era of the redemption. Among the best-known of these: “The wolf will dwell with the lamb; the leopard will lie down with a young goat”; “He will raise a banner for the nations and gather in the exiles of Israel.”
Mind Over Matter
“He turned the sea into dry land”
We find the miracle of the Splitting of the Sea described as follows: “He turned the sea into dry land.” In chassidic thought, the sea serves as a metaphor for the material world which hides the G-dliness within it. Like the waters of the sea which cover over whatever is within them, our material existence conceals the G-dly life-force which maintains its existence. The transformation of the sea into dry land symbolizes the revelation of this hidden truth, demonstrating that the world is not separate from G-d, but rather unified with Him entirely.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe
Rabbi Menachem Posner writes: “The Baal Shem Tov remarked that on the last day of Passover, the rays of the messianic redemption are already shining bright. He instituted that a special meal be held during the waning hours of the day. Rabbi Shalom Dov Ber of Lubavitch added four cups of wine to the meal, mirroring the Seders held on the first nights of the holiday.” The Baal Shem Tov’s linking of our awareness of Moshiach to the physical is significant, because it prepares us for the revelations of the era of the redemption. In that era, the G-dliness that is enclothed within the physical world will be overtly manifest. As the prophet Isaiah declared, “The glory of G-d will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together.” At that time, “the glory of G-d” will permeate even the physical aspects of the world—“all flesh.”
Have I Got A Story
He was a prince of the tribe of Judah. He was the brother-in-law of Aaron, the high priest. When everyone else hesitated, he jumped into the swirling sea. He was Nachshon, the son of Aminadav. Here is a portrait of the man whose quiet action left an indelible mark on our nation.
Nachshon was a fifth-generation descendant of Judah, son of Jacob. He appears for the first time in the Torah when Aaron marries his sister: “Aaron took for a wife Elisheva, daughter of Aminadav, sister of Nachshon.” The Torah generally records names only when mentioning someone new, and the commentaries wonder why Elisheva’s brother is mentioned here as well.
They suggest that before marrying Elisheva, Aaron had inquired about Nachshon, his future brother-in-law. We learn from Aaron that when searching for a wife, it is important to vet her brothers. Fine, upstanding brothers indicate that the sister will be a fitting life partner.
Seven days after leaving Egypt, the Israelites found themselves trapped between a raging sea and the vengeful Egyptian army. Then G-d gave Moses a command that seemed impossible to fulfill: “Speak to the people of Israel; they shall travel.”
The order was given to go forward, sea or no sea. But who would make the first move? At that moment, Nachshon’s devotion and bravery came to the fore. The Midrash and Talmud share the following account:
When Israel stood facing the Sea of Reeds, and the command was given to move forward, each of the tribes hesitated, saying, “We do not want to be the first to jump into the sea.”
Nachshon saw what was happening—and jumped into the sea.
At that moment Moses was standing and praying. G-d said to him, “My beloved ones are drowning in the stormy seas, and you are standing and praying?”
Moses replied, “Master of the world, what am I to do?”
Said G-d, “You lift your staff and spread your hand over the seas, which will split, and Israel will come into the sea upon dry land.”
And so it was. Following Nachshon’s lead, the Israelites entered the sea and were saved.
The Midrash enumerates several rewards that Nachshon’s brave deed earned him, including that the eternal kingdom of Israel was given to his tribe, Judah, and it follows that Moshiach will be his descendant as well.
Nachshon was also among the seventy elders upon whom Moses conferred his spirit. However his appointment as an elder had a tragic result. We read that in the second year after leaving Egypt, “the people were looking to complain, and it was evil in the ears of the L-rd. The L-rd heard, and His anger flared, and a fire from the L-rd burned among them, consuming the extremes of the camp.” The Midrash explains that the “extremes of the camp” is a reference to the seventy elders, including Nachshon.
Nevertheless, Nachshon’s name has become synonymous with courage and the will to do the right thing, even when it’s not popular. Inspired by Nachshon, King David wrote in Psalms, “I have sunk in muddy depths, and there is no place to stand; I have come into the deep water, and the current has swept me away . . . Let not the current of water sweep me away, nor the deep swallow me, and let the well not close its mouth over me.”
The Rebbe saw Nachshon’s deed as a call to action: “One fellow named Nachshon jumped into the sea, and caused the great miracle of the Splitting of the Sea. Technically, he was under no obligation to do so. But he knew that G-d wanted Israel to move onward toward Sinai. So he did what he needed to do. There was a sea in his way. So he jumped into the sea and plowed on toward his goal. “The lesson for all of us is that we must stay focused on our life’s mission, disregarding all obstacles.”
Adapted from an article by Rabbi Mendy Kaminker