The pasuk in Shemos tells us that when the jews were at the sea, and the Egyptians were closing in on them, they turned to God and called out.

following this, the chumash tells us:

shemos 14:15 וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה מַה־תִּצְעַק אֵלָי דַּבֵּר אֶל־בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל וְיִסָּעוּ׃ Adonoy said to Moshe, “Why do you cry to Me? Speak to the B’nei Yisrael and let them move on.

God only gave the instruction to go into the sea after they cried out.

so, what was so wrong with the jews calling out to god?


Would it be accurate to say that the issue was that the Jews had more options that they themselves could do, and it was not yet necessary to go crying to god?


2 Answers 2


The Mechilta says that at that time the Israelites split into four factions: -One faction said: “Let us cast ourselves into the sea.” -Another said: “Let us return to Egypt.” -A third said: “Let us wage war against the Egyptians.” -A fourth said: “Let us cry out to God.”

But God simply said to Moses: “Let them go forward”. The Lubavitcher Rebbe interprets that to mean that God rejected all four approaches:

While each approach has its time and place, none of them is a complete vision to guide our lives and define our relationship with the world. We must simply go forward, take another step towards our goals. Not escape reality, not submit to it, not wage war on it, not pray for it to change, but “go forward”. Do another mitzvah, ignite another soul, take one more step towards your goal.

  • L’chatechilah ariber? 😉 May 17, 2023 at 3:42

Rashi understands this to mean that instead of prayer, it was "time for action", so to speak.

“It is no time now to pray at length, when Israel is placed in trouble”.

See also this explanation from Ramban.

The Sforno, on the other hand, takes it to another level explaining:

מה תצעק אלי?; G’d’s question seems at first glance redundant, seeing that Moses’ outcry could have been perceived as part of the nation’s outcry in verse 10, i.e. ויצעקו בני ישראל וגו'.However, Moses’ outcry had nothing to do with being afraid of the pursuing Egyptians. He had already predicted the downfall and death of Pharaoh and his army as being so decisive that Egypt as a world power would never again pose a serious threat to the Jews. (verse 13-14) He had also told the people that G’d would do the fighting for them and that all they had to do was to remain silent. Moses’ outcry was one of concern with the rebellious attitude of the people who not only were afraid, something that could be forgiven, but who had dared to be sarcastic in their hour of danger, ridiculing Moses’ leadership to the point where he was afraid that they would refuse to enter the sea when told to. G’d told Moses that he had no right to assume such a thing, that in fact he was suspecting innocent people of lack of faith.

The Chizkuni explains that the problem here was the lack of faith. The people needed to show faith, even a little bit. Instead, Moshe cried out (representing the whole nation).

He is taking issue with the fact that the Israelites were complaining instead of displaying a little bit of faith by wading into the sea. G-d tells Moses to command them to get moving.

This seems to align with what the Nefesh HaChaim teaches.

Therefore, at the time of the splitting of the Sea of Reeds, He (blessed be He) said to Moshe (Shemot 14:15): “Why are you crying out to Me? Speak to the Israelites that they should start moving”, as if to say that it depends on them. That if they will be in the mode of faith and belief, and they would travel, going and proceeding to the Sea absolutely certain and without fear, out of their mighty belief that it will undoubtedly split before them, then as a result they will cause an awakening above, so that a miracle should happen and it will split before them.

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