Alumni Corner: Akiva Tendler

Shattering the Shackles

After breaking free from the life enslaved to the Egyptians and receiving the Torah at Har Sinai, we begin our Parsha this week with the laws of the Eved Ivri. An Eved, or servant, in this case is someone who turned to servitude because they couldn't repay their debt or theft. When we look back at the narrative and big turning point where the Jewish people becamswitched from being servants of Pharaoh to servants of Hashem, we find one moment in particular that stands out.


When the Jews were leaving Egypt, they were stopped by the sea. Pharaoh's military was closing in on them from behind. Suddenly, they were trapped, waiting and starding in disbelief at their predicament. On the one side they had a closed river blocking their path, and behind them was on the greatest militaries in the world slowly closing in. They began screaming and crying out to Hashem with no where to turn. The posuk tells us: וַיֹּ֨אמֶר משֶׁ֣ה אֶל־הָעָם֘ אַל־תִּירָ֒אוּ֒ הִתְיַצְּב֗וּ וּרְאוּ֙ אֶת־יְשׁוּעַ֣ת יְהֹוָ֔ה אֲשֶׁר־יַֽעֲשֶׂ֥ה לָכֶ֖ם הַיּ֑וֹם כִּ֗י אֲשֶׁ֨ר רְאִיתֶ֤ם אֶת־מִצְרַ֨יִם֙ הַיּ֔וֹם לֹ֥א תֹסִ֛פוּ לִרְאֹתָ֥ם ע֖וֹד עַד־עוֹלָֽם: - Moshes said to the people, Don't be afraid! Stand firm and see Hashem's salvation that He will wreak for you today, for the way you have seen the Egyptians is only today, but you shall no longer continue to see them for eternity. (יד:יג)


Moshe explains to the Jews that you have to turn around and face Mitzrayim, and the way you see them now, you will never see them again. It seems to be a very interesting line to give as a motivational speech. The Ohr HaChaim teaches that what Moshe was telling them was that they can not fear their enemy when they know Hashem is on their side. For Hashem to help them, they must turn around and stare their threat in the eye, and only then will Hashem allow them to realize how great their salvation is.


Sometimes in life, in order to deal with our challenges, we need to turn around and stare down the issue instead of running from it. Too often, we avoid our struggles and our adversity, thinking that as long as we don't see it, it can't see us and we can avoid it. But deep down we know that the only way to deal with such challenges are by confronting them head on. Only after turning around and facing your issues will Hashem come and help you out. We are strengthened through confronting our struggles. This is what Moshe was telling the Jews by Mitzrayim, to turn around and face them before jumping into the sea, because once you face your challenges head on, you will never see the issue the same again. May we all share this same strength and determination to perservere through our struggles in life.


~ Akiva Tendler is an alumni of Lev Zion, and is from Lakewood, NJ

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