I drove home from class the other night, when all of a sudden a car sped up behind me. The driver honked and flashed his bright lights, signaling for me to speed up. I kept my pace—the speed limit. Impatient and frustrated by my lack of response, the driver switched lanes and zoomed past, leaving me what I thought was far behind. Well, it wasn’t so far behind, because less than a mile later we were side by side at the same red light. With all his speeding, bright lights, honking and going over the speed limit, the other car ended up exactly where he would have if he had continued to go at the speed limit and had stayed, if not behind me, at least to the side of me.

When I first heard that she had to repeat the year I was, well, upsetThis incident happened in the exact same week when my daughter’s kindergarten teacher told me that she would be staying back and repeating kindergarten next year. Why? Protocol. My daughter is young. She’s the youngest in her class, and all the girls in our school district born during the month of Kislev (Hebrew month corresponding to November-December time) have to repeat the year. It doesn’t matter that intellectually and emotionally my daughter is very mature, or that she—thank G‑d—is very bright; she’s doing kindergarten again, but so are at least 20 percent of her class.

I have to tell you, when I first heard that she had to repeat the year I was, well, upset. Or maybe the emotion I felt was disappointment? I can’t put my finger on it—I wasn’t thrilled, to say the least. Where I grew up, in the States, everything was about getting ahead and getting ahead quickly. If you could skip a grade or two, it was all the better: “Go, get ahead, and get there quickly.” In my daughter’s school the system is different. Instead of “go, go, go,” the motto is, “Have confidence, feel capable, be ready.” It’s a different approach. The more I think about it, the more I appreciate it and the more I like it.

On the seventh day after leaving Egypt, the nation of Israel arrived at the Red Sea. Pharaoh and his army rode their chariots towards them. G‑d performed a miracle: the sea split open, and Israel walked through on dry land. Pharaoh charged forward. As Israel safely reached the other side, the waters came gushing back together, and they witnessed their oppressors drown. It was a huge miracle. The Children of Israel raised up their voices, and with joy and gratitude they sang praise to G‑d. The Torah describes this outburst of song: “Then Moshe and the Children of Israel sang . . .” (Exodus 15:1)

Why the word “then”?

“Then” means at that precise moment, not before and not after.

Can you imagine the scene? There were 600,000 men, at least the same amount of women, and well over a million children crossing the sea. The sages explain that the sea split into twelve different pathways, corresponding to the twelve different tribes. Over two million people crossed the sea, and yet there was no pushing or shoving. Some were obviously in front, some in the back, and some of course in the middle—and yet, as the Torah tells us, “Then Moses and the Children of Israel sang.” Then, at that time, all together, not before and not after. They all got to the other side, and they all arrived at the same time to sing.

There’s an order in life, and when you try to shake it up, you end up with nothingIn life there is a speed limit. A person can push and push and push, and you know what, you are not going to get to your destination any quicker by trying to go past it.

I even see this in my own home. It’s early in the morning, and I want everyone up and ready for school. Breakfast and lunch need to be made. I need everyone dressed, fed, and ready by 8:00, or else. I’m tense and I’m nervous. I myself have to start working, and the clock is ticking and ticking. My blood pressure is rising. “Nu, let’s go. Hurry up. Come quick.” Speed up, flash the lights, push and push ahead. “If they’re late, I’m late.” “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.”

You know what happens during those mornings? My children’s feet move slower. The milk spills quicker. Everyone is in a bad mood, and we are always at least 15 minutes later going out the door. I think that I’m in control of the situation, and try to hasten and make everyone go at my speed. Instead, my children slow down and show me that I am far from being in control.

I’ve learned to use other tactics instead. “Elana, go at the normal speed limit. You’ll get to where you need to end up anyways, and arriving at that destination will be so much nicer. Everyone will get to where they need to be, and when.”

I open the curtains with a song. I tickle and joke with the little ones to put their clothes on. The one who needs more time getting dressed, I wake her up first. Nothing spills, and if it does, we quickly clean it up. We’re ready and out by 7:55. What changed? A small, simple thing: I try not to rush. By rushing, we don’t get ahead.

There’s an order in life, and when you try to shake it up, you end up with nothing. You push, they’ll pull. You speed up, you’ll be stopped. And this is one of the lessons of Passover, because Passover is all about the Seder (in Hebrew, seder is “order”). Passover tells us, “Stop trying to trample! Just go at the normal speed limit. You’ll still get there!” When the Jews left Egypt and crossed the Red Sea, they taught us that in life each and every one of us will get to where we are supposed to, and it will be at the precise moment, not before and not after. “Then Elana and her children sang . . . !”