Conviction and National Self Worth On the Beaches of Yam Suf (or the lack thereof)
Look carefully at the following image:
This is what a 1:1660 ratio looks like, the ratio that existed between the remaining Egyptian army and Am Yisrael, as they camped on the banks of Yam Suf. 1,800 soldiers chasing a nation of 3,000,000 people and still, we were petrified, helpless and ready to surrender.
All Am Yisrael needed to do was to march towards the Egyptian army and overrun them with the sheer numbers alone. The thought never occurred to us though, rather, we were certain our fate was doomed.
The reason is obvious – a nation of slaves, we could not fathom turning defiantly on our recent masters and striking them. We still valued ourselves through their eyes and had yet to develop an independent identity, filled with self awareness and self worth. As a result, we lacked the conviction to stand up to our oppressors and where there is no power of conviction – there is no power at all.
This is why, when turning to Hashem to ask for his salvation, Hashem responds: “Why do you cry out to me? Speak to the Children of Israel and let them go forth!”.
After all we had witnessed and experienced – the plagues on Egypt, leaving servitude, the continuous existence of the pillars of smoke and fire – and faced with an existential threat, Hashem sends us a message: ‘You are ready to begin developing a belief in your own abilities and acting on it. Forget how you have grown accustomed to seeing yourself, stop valuing yourself through your enemy’s eyes”. Hashem had changed our reality and now expected us to change our perspective accordingly.
So, the next time someone tells you – “It doesn’t matter what we believe”, “It’s not enough that we know we’re right!”, “We can’t possibly attack Iran on our own!”, “We can’t possibly defy International pressure!”, “We have no choice but to comply with international law” and similar statements, remind them of everything we have witnessed and experienced – the plagues upon our enemies these past 65 years, leaving exile, the continued existence of The State of Israel – and remind them that, even when faced (maybe especially when we are faced) with enormous threats – we are a lot stronger than we think, just as we were back at the sea. Show them the diagram above and remind them that what we can and cannot do has always been a result of our national self worth self worth, our belief in Hashem through belief in ourselves and our conviction to carry out a divine destiny. ‘Speak to the children of Israel, let them recognize who they are and how much power their conviction can hold, and let them go forth!”.