When I was in 8th grade, I had a vivid dream in which I lived out my whole life, including finishing school, getting married, having children and really living a whole and happy life….and then I woke up. I remember the deflated, empty feeling that I had then, a feeling of dread that it actually hadn’t happened. In fact, I had to do all of that all over again. The thought of all of the effort and years that I had ahead was overwhelming and the disappointment was heavy.
We made our son’s bar mitzvah over Zoom this week. His birthday was (is) on Shevi’i Shel Pesach. Ever since he was born I had wondered and worried about how we would possibly make a bar mitzvah on Shevi’i Shel Pesach. We went through many ideas and plans before deciding on what we thought was our final one. And then Corona hit and the decision was taken out of our hands. But in the planning and discussions of the past few years, one thing was always part of the dream- having a big Seudas Moshiach with family and friends, with singing, divrei Torah and divrei bracha. I had hoped to talk about my grandfather for whom my son is named and about the amazing energy of the day, this day when Bnei Yisrael crossed the Yam Suf and learned the incredible lesson of total Emunah.
In the back of my mind was also the hope and dream that maybe Moshiach would even come and our Seudah would be a welcome party for him. A Seudas Moshiach with Moshiach himself.
Alas, when our Seudas Moshiach happened this year Moshiach did not make a grand appearance. The world was not (yet) redeemed. And the disappointment was crushing.
When I woke up after that dream so many years ago, I really had no choice but to get out of bed and get ready for school despite the intensity of the disappointment. And I guess the same is true today.
When Bnei Yisrael were stuck between the sea and the Egyptian army, the Torah tells us that there was a moment of panic and despair. Not seeing how they would get out of this situation, they cried out to Hashem and complained to Moshe and Aharon. The midrash tells us that they were divided into 4 groups in their reactions. One group said: “Let’s jump into the sea and drown” A second group said, “Let’s return to Egypt.” A third said, “Let’s fight the Egyptians.” A fourth said, “Let’s daven to Hashem.”
Moshe answers them by saying, “Have no fear! Stand by, and witness the deliverance which the LORD will work for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again. The LORD will battle for you; you hold your peace!” (Shemos 14:13-14) Each part of this sentence is an answer to each group. To the people who wanted to die he said “Have no fear! Stand by”; to those who wanted to return to Egypt he said “you will never see them again”; to those who wanted to fight he said “Hashem will fight for you”; and to those who wanted to daven he said “hold your peace!”
But Hashem has a different response. He says “Tell Bnei Yisrael to go forward.” As simple as that. Just go forward, even though there’s a sea in your way. Just go forward, even though you don’t know where or how or why. Just go forward, even though it seems like the world is upside down. Just go forward, even though you have to wake up tomorrow and do it all again and again. Just go forward, even though Moshiach didn’t come at the Seudas Moshiach. Just go forward, even though you are scared. Just go forward.
So that’s what I am doing.
I give us all a bracha to know that we crossed the Yam Suf this week and the lesson of total Emunah came down once again into this world. I bless us to hold on tight. And keep going forward.