As with everything is our Torah, even one-time events serve as eternal messages for us. As the Egyptians were closing in on the frightened Jews, there seemed to be no way out. The choice was either death by the sword, or death by drowning. The people frantically turned to Moses, fearing for their lives. Moses assured them that G-d would perform a miracle for them, but that did little to calm them. However, there was one man, Nachson the son of Aminadav, who took the initiative.
Trusting completely in G-d, he began confidently walking into the sea. He walked further and further, until the water was past his waist, soon it was past his neck, but Nachshon did not show signs of stopping. Just as the water reached his nostrils, the sea began to split, and the Jews were able to walk safely along the newly formed path. The rest, as they say, is history.
Although all logic and rational thinking dictated otherwise, Nachson’s belief and faith in G-d’s promise was the catalyst needed for G-d’s miracle to materialize. Although Judaism is an immensely intellectual religion and way of life (in fact, Torah study is one of the most important Mitzvot), at the core of all of our knowledge and observance must be a burning, fiery belief in G-d. This belief must not be dependent on any outside logic or reasoning. This belief in G-d, as Maimonides says in the beginning of his classic Mishnah Torah, must be the foundation of everything.
Our holy books tell us that this trust and belief is innately present in every Jewish person, buried deep in the soul. The challenge is to take the lesson from Nachshon, and let it shine openly. The more in touch we become with this part of our soul, the more we will see G-ds miracles around us.
Many have the custom to eat buckwheat (kasha) this Shabbat, as it resembles the Manna which we also read about in this Torah portion. There is also a widespread custom to leave out food for the birds, and speak with children of the importance of being kind to animals, as our ancestors fed the birds fruit during the crossing of the Sea. (However, the food for the birds should be left out prior to the beginning of Shabbat, as we refrain from feeding wild animals on Shabbat itself.)
Rabbi Akiva Hall