Day 4 – Passover 2012: Ancient Story, Modern Lessons

Day 4 – Passover 2012: Ancient Story, Modern Lessons

Nachshon – Adult Reflections

The parting of the Red Sea didn’t really happened as it is portrayed in Disney’s “The Prince of Egypt” or Cecil B. De Mille’s “The Ten Commandments.”  The Midrash relates that during the Exodus, when the Israelites reached the Red Sea, it did not automatically part. The Israelites stood at the banks of the sea and wailed with despair, but Nachshon entered the waters. Once he was up to his nose in the water, the sea parted.  It is true that the Egyptians were in hot pursuit of the Israelites and would have massacred them if they met them at the shores of the Red Sea, but it still took much valor on Nachshon’s part to go into the water, not knowing if he would drown himself.

Nachshon took the initiative.  In fact there is a popular Yiddish saying “to be a Nachshon” means to be an “initiator.”  He did what everyone else knew had to be done but everyone waited for someone else to do it.

How often do we see things that need to be done or remedied in our society and just wait for someone else to do it?  How often are we passive observers rather than Nachshons?

Taking the first step is not without risk, and not every risk is rewarded.  Where would we be as a people and as a society without the many Nachshons throughout the generations?

Nachshon For Younger Children

When the Israelites were running from Egyptians, they came to a sea. They all were too scared to go into the water. They were afraid they might drown, because they lived in the desert and didn’t know how to swim. But one man, Nachshon, was brave enough to go into the water and lead the rest to safety. He did it without being asked to!

Discuss with the children that it is a big mitzvah to help someone without being asked to. Ask them to think of some chores around the house that they can do on their own.  It is even a bigger mitzvah to do a good deed when the other person doesn’t even know you were the one who helped. It becomes a wonderful secret that you can treasure. Ask them how they would feel if they had helped someone out in secret.

Nachshon For Older Children And Teens

In Exodus, when the Israelites reached the Red Sea, it did not automatically part. The Israelites stood at the banks of the sea in despair, but Nahshon entered the waters. Once he was up to his nose in the water, the sea parted.  The Egyptians were closing in on the Israelites and would have massacred them if they had caught up with them. But it still took much bravery on Nachshon’s part to go into the water, not knowing if he would drown.

Everyone there knew they had to go into the water, but no one would take the first step. Nachshon did what everyone else knew had to be done.
Have there been times in your school or in your group of friends when you saw a wrong being done, but nobody stepped up to do anything about it? Think about why people are unwilling to take the lead in a situation like this. What holds them back?
Have you ever been the first to bring attention to a wrong or an injustice? How did you feel when you did this? Why did you do it?
How often do you see things that need to be done or remedied in school and just wait for someone else to do it?
How often are we passive observers rather than being like Nachshon?
Taking the first step is not without risk, and not every risk is rewarded. But where would we be as a people and as a society without the many Nachshons throughout the generations?

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