Difficult to Pull Off

In the eyes of the Talmud, the splitting of the Sea of Reeds has a special status.  When it wants to express that some aspect of Divine Providence is particularly complicated to orchestrate, the Talmud compares it to the Splitting of the Sea.  In one place, it says that a person’s sustenance is as difficult as the Splitting of the Sea.  Another passage acknowledges the complexity of male/female relationships by not only attributing match-making to Heavenly intervention but also by declaring that it too is as difficult as the Splitting of the Sea.  These Talmudic references raise a question that really is difficult.  Is anything difficult for the Almighty?  Whatever we can perceive of His power and genius is great beyond our comprehension; how can we look at any act as more or less difficult for Him?  Is it more difficult for Him to create a DNA molecule, the Swiss Alps, or a squirrel’s ear?

Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky (1891 –1986, cited by Einei Yisroel on Sefer Shemos, pg. 117), the European-born American Rosh Yeshiva and Halahic authority, explains that the difficulty involves the compromise of two important needs.  Of course the Almighty can do as He pleases, and no act, even if it is miraculous from our perspective, can be seen as difficult.  The Talmud (Chagigah 12a) explains that the rules of nature were composed with immense wisdom, as the verse in Mishlei states “Hashem established the earth with wisdom; He set the Heavens with understanding; with His knowing, the depths were split (3:19-20).  The three qualities mentioned here, that is wisdom, understanding and knowledge, all contributed to and are evident in the wondrous and ingenious natural and physical laws through which the universe functions.  A miracle, by definition, is supernatural and abrogates these natural laws.  Since these laws are based on Divine wisdom, a miracle perforce abrogates and opposes that Divine wisdom, albeit temporarily, on some level.  According to this, the Almighty’s “difficulty” with the splitting of the sea and the other providential matters mentioned above, does not refer to the difficulty of the act but rather to the need to contradict and stymie the great wisdom with which He endowed the world.

It’s so easy to forget the brilliance that is evident in the world around us but it is so crucial not to.  As the author of the classic Mussar work The Path of the Just humbly writes in his introduction, his book is only about ideas that everyone knows with certainty.  However, to the degree that these rules are well-known and their truth self-evident, they are routinely overlooked, or people forget about them altogether.  It is hard to find an idea that is so great and important as that of the Divine stamp in all of the wonders of the universe that is, at the same time, so neglected, so forlorn and so forgotten.  The most important lesson of all of the miracles recounted in the saga of the Exodus is to be mindful of their “difficulty,” and to stem the tide of taking the daily, hidden miracles for granted.


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