The Jewish people huddled in groups trying to decide what to do. The Egyptian chariots were coming up quickly from behind, and miles of water stretched out ahead. To either side was a barren desert. Some people were very confused and afraid, thinking there was no choice but to return to Mitzrayim.

Some people vowed never to return as slaves. “The only way we will face the Egyptians again is in battle. Let’s fight them,” they cried.

Still others argued that they would not stand a chance in war. “We could never win,” they moaned. “Let’s pray and call to HaShem.”

The last group of people had a different idea. “Maybe we should throw ourselves into the water. It would be better to give up our lives rather than fall into the hands of the Egyptians.”

There was one man who was not part of any of these groups. He didn’t think this was a time for debating. His name was Nachshon Ben Aminodov. He just went ahead and did what he knew was the right thing. He jumped right into the water.

He wasn’t thinking of giving up his life. There was something else entirely on his mind. “HaShem said we came out of Mitzrayim to receive the Torah on Mount Sinai — then that is exactly where we are supposed to go,” thought Nachshon. “Going back to Egypt or even praying to HaShem will not bring us closer to Mount Sinai. Forward towards Mount Sinai is the right direction, and that’s where I’m going. There is water in the way? No matter — it’s the right direction and will bring me one step closer to Mount Sinai, where HaShem wants me to be.”

Now Nachshon didn’t know that a miracle would occur. And it didn’t happen right away. The water was knee deep, but he went on. The water reached his thighs, but he kept moving. The water came right up to his neck, but he didn’t turn back. Then, all at once, the waters split and he found himself on dry land.

How could he have been sure that it was right to plunge into the sea? Nachshon knew about mesirus nefesh, giving up your life. But not every situation demands that a person give up his or her life. How did Nachshon know that he was right?

He didn’t! Neither did those who were trying to decide the proper thing to do. That’s why they were debating. But Nachshon didn’t debate. He was not thinking about mesirus nefesh at all! He was thinking about one thing: what HaShem had told the Jewish people.

* * *

We have been given the promise: Hegia zeman geulaschem, “The time of your Redemption has arrived.” We know where we’re going and we are pushing on in that direction. Even if it seems that some things are blocking our way, we’re following Nachshon’s example and heading straight towards Geulah, regardless of the obstacles.

(Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. I, Parshas Bo;Vol. III, Parshas Beshallach)