When Bnei Yisroel reach the Yam Suf (Red Sea) with the whole Egyptian army charging towards them and only an ocean in front, Moshe starts to pray. Hashem's response to this prayer, is somewhat surprising. "Why are you praying? Now is the time for actions not words!" - Jump into the sea and it will split already! The moral here seems to be; there are times to pray to Hashem for help and there are times to get on and help yourself. Yet we ARE taught to daven in ALL times of trouble! Hashem was telling Moshe in this circumstance, not to daven AT ALL. Why? One answer is in the concept of "Maaseh L'Avos Simmon L'Bonim" - The principle that whatever happened to our forefathers will happen again to us throughout the ages. However, this principle is far more than a Hebrew equivalent to the badge 'History repeats itself’. It states that whatever critical events happened to our forefathers become the prototypes for similar events that will occur nationally later on. However these events operated the first time they happened, is how they will operate in the future for all time.

The time we spent in Egypt was the first ever exile. The splitting of the Yam Suf and subsequent destruction of the Egyptian armed forces was the ultimate redemption from that exile. Hashem’s instruction to Moshe not to pray at all, was a deliberate move to form all future exiles. Hashem was telling Moshe that redemption from exile is not dependant on prayer. Of course Hashem desires our prayers and it is the right thing to do to pray for the end of the exile. BUT, Hashem has promised to redeem even those of us who don’t pray! If the first ever Exile had ended through the power of prayer, then every exile following could ONLY have ended through prayer.

Vort I heard from Rabbi Treblow (Leeds University Chaplain 2004-2007)

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