The gemora in Pesachim 118a says "קשין מזונותיו של אדם כקריעת ים סוף", and there is a similar expression in Sota 2a and Sanhedrin 22a "קשה לזווגן כקריעת ים סוף". What exactly was difficult about Kriyas Yam Suf? Who was it difficult for? Us? Hashem? Can something really be difficult for Hashem?


The question is dealt with here

A brief summary of the article:

Why is it difficult to “tear” the Red Sea ?

A medrash says that Moshe who saw all the plagues of Egypt, asked Hashem, You have set a border to the sea and You have sworn never to tear it up”

The Maharal explains tearing the Red Sea breaks all the rules of natural resources. Until then when there was a break of the use of natural laws, it was local and specific. The Torah compares all the plagues of Egypt to a finger and splitting the sea to a hand.

In the words of the Maharal:

All the seas are effectively one. It is not that part of the world has undergone a change, but one of the basic elements of the six days of creation is undermined here.

As Chazal say: ויבקעו המים - כל מימות שבעולם נבקעו

Of course nothing is difficult for Hashem. But the Torah speaks in our language. So the "difficulty" so to speak was indeed for Hashem in the sense that

  • He had set a boundary for the sea which He now changed and
  • He did this on a global scale.

I once heard an interesting explanation of this by Rabbi Uziel Milevsky zt'l regarding marriage. (he didn't explain about the livelihood version of that statement)

Basically he says that the most difficult barrier in marriage is selfishness - each spouse focuses on his/her own self.

The analogy to selfishness in the physical world is gravity, where each piece of matter pulls things to itself. The splitting of the sea was going against gravity.

So it is merely teaching us marriage is difficult in that it is going against the natural human tendency of selfishness, just like the waters went against the natural law of gravity. The midrash seems to be emphasizing just how hard this is for a human being and that it requires great effort to go against one's nature.

(source here).

  • Seems like Yehoshua causing the Yarden to flow vertically upwards would have been a better example if that were the point. – Y     e     z Apr 24 '14 at 19:10
  • @YEZ not necesarily. the sea is much bigger volume of water. and perhaps it is not 90 degrees "steep" against one's nature – ray Apr 25 '14 at 5:23

This is a matter of how can Bnei Yisrael merit Hashem "intervening" in the "natural" world to do things. Of course, Hashem can do anything He wants, but it is a matter of people seeing the nissim and meriting Hashgacha Pratis. Kriyas Yam Suf is the "breaking" of natural law as a one time event. Thus, people can see the miracle that is being done. As it says, "A shifcha at the Yam Suf saw more than the navi Yechezkel was able to see". However, the constant miracles that are required to provide the "daily living" or to continue for a lifetime with one's zivug. If we were to be left to "natural law" these things would be unable to continue. We must realize that it is only through hashgacha pratis that we are able to continue in the world and we must realize this and work to merit the constant nissim as well as understand that it is only through nissim that we can survive.

For Example "Ki Sisa Es Rosh B'nei Yisroel Lifkudeihem

When a person is at risk of drowning in the ocean, as long as his head is above the water and hasn't sunk below the surface, he is still alive and [at least temporarily] safe. His body may be fully submerged, but as long as the head is above water, he's breathing. Similarly, we are familiar with the Medrash that describes the efforts in earning a living as being as hard as "crossing the Red Sea" (kashe mezonosav shel adam k'kriyas Yam Suf). The problems and complexities of "making an honest buck" are the same as the waves of the ocean that threaten to overcome one who is at risk of drowning. The key is to keep one's head up, to keep from sinking under the relentless waves. This is done by reserving time for Torah study and Tefilla (prayer), which help us to lift our heads from the drudgery of the daily grind.

Kriat Yam Suf

Chazal tell us that there are three things that are as difficult for the Ribbono Shel Olam, k'vayachol, as the performance of Kriyas Yam Suf: providing a person with food, finding a person's zivug, marital partner, and the keeping the functioning of a person's body in a proper manner. What does this mean? HaRav Drillman explained that if we work a little harder to see the miracles in these "everyday" occurrences then we will be better able to rise to the Madreigah of seeing HKB"H in every aspect of our lives and being able to come closer to Him.

  • The first paragraph you quote seems to imply that the difficulty was for the Benei Yisrael passing through the Yam Suf, the waves above their heads threatened to drown them. The second one sounds like it might be "difficult" so to speak for Hashem, but then is rather ambiguous as to what exactly the difficulty is... – Jewels Apr 23 '14 at 11:59
  • @user3032 The point is that Hashem can do whatever he "wants" because the existence of the world itself is dependent on Him. However, the continuing intervention is "more difficult" than a single miracle in order to save people. Also it is a matter of bchiras chafshis. – sabbahillel Apr 23 '14 at 12:58

A fascinating answer I once heard:

During Krias Yam Suf, the Jews went in and out on the same side. In other words, they walked in an arc.

The Medrash also says that each tribe walked through its own "tunnel" - so there were parallel happenings of Krias Yam Suf.

As a result, those in the inside of the arc had a much shorter Krias Yam Suf than those in the outer end of the arc.

Simialrly for finding a Shidduch, some people have a longer wait and others a shorter wait; it's as difficult as Krias Yam Suf - you have to do the walk as Hashem plans it for you.


Following in the trend of "I once heard" answers in this thread:

The Ibn Ezra says that the sea was closing on the Mitzrim as it remained open for Bnei Yisroel. The miracle had to be tailored to account for how it affected different people in varying ways at the same time.

Similarly, in finding a shidduch and in business, Hashem manages it such that everything you do leads you to (the opportunity of) finding your shidduch, and making your parnassah, while simultaneously not interfering with how others do the same, even though your path in life affect what happens to others. Hashem balances it all at the same time for everyone.


The "difficulty" is referring to the "difficult" situation that B'nai Yisroel were in at Yam Suf - what did they do at this difficult juncture? Davened to Hashem.
This is the p'shat: parnasah and shidduchim "should" be difficult like Yam Suf: you have to daven & scream to Hashem to merit a shidduch and parnasa!

  • Welcome to MiYodeya Please consider registering your account, to enable more site features, including voting. – mbloch Jan 24 '18 at 19:35
  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya, user 16615! I like your "p'shat", but I'm not sure that I understand the difficulty any better than before. Consider clarifying what the difficulty was (as that was the question asked). – רבות מחשבות Jan 24 '18 at 22:14

I remember seeing another Peshat (I think it was in Reshimos Devarim by Rabbi Yehuda Chitrik):

There are three "hard" things:

  1. Splitting the sea.

    Why is it hard?

    When Hashem created the world, he made a condition with the sea that it should split for the Jews. Since it was done in Heaven before the world's creation, the angel of the sea saw that the Jews were on a high level and agreed.

    The problem was that by the time the Jews got to the sea, they were serving idols and at the 49th gate of impurity. So the angel said: "What? Split the sea for them? No Way!!". So the hard work was to convince the angel that those Jews standing by the Red Sea were the same people it originally saw.

  2. Parnassah - When Hashem decides how much sustenance each Jew gets (on Rosh Hashana), they're praying and being holy. So the angles say "Sure, give them everything they need".

    The problem is that when they leave Shul, they're no longer as holy, and then the angels in charge of actually distributing sustenance say "I agreed to give money to these people?". So the hard work is convincing these angels that these regular people are the same people who were holy on Rosh Hashana.

  3. Marriage - The Gemara says that 40 days before a child is born, Hashem announces who that soul will marry. Being that the soul is still in Heaven, and sees the other soul's "heavenly" side, it says "Sure I'll marry that person".

    But when it gets time to actually marry, it says "What, marry that person? I never agreed to that!" And the hard work is convincing that it's actually that original soul in that body.

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