The Torah reading on the Seventh Day of Pesach recounts the Jewishpeople’s crossing the Sea of Reeds, Kerias Yam Suf. Commenting on the words that the Jews sang then (as part of the Song of the Sea) “…and the waters were for them a wall on their right and on their left,”1 the Mechilta2 notes the following: Among the Jews who crossed the sea were idolaters. The Attribute of Justice thus protested: “They [the Egyptians and the Jews] are both idolaters; why are they [the idolatrous Jews] worthy of being saved?”3

The Mechilta concludes: “What caused the Jewishpeople to be saved? ‘On their right and on their left’: ‘On their right’ — in the merit of the Torah they would be receiving, of which it is said,4 ‘Amid fire, He gave them the Torah [that was written] with His right hand’; ‘On their left’ — this refers to prayer (according to a variant text:5 ‘this refers to tefillin’).”

Why was it necessary for the Jews to have two distinct merits — the “right side” and “left side”: Torah and prayer (or tefillin)? Surely, shouldn’t the merit of their imminent selection by G‑d as His people from all other nations, and His choosing to give the Torah to them, specifically, have been merit enough?

Kerias Yam Suf consisted of two distinct components, one relating to the past and one relating to the future:6 a) The Egyptian exile was then concluded once and for all, for up to that time the Jewishpeople were still being pursued by the Egyptians; b) Kerias Yam Suf also served as a preparation for Matan Torah, the Giving of the Torah.7

Chassidus8 offers ample proof that Kerias Yam Suf not only concluded the process by which the Jewish people were freed from Egyptian exile, but also served as a preparation to Matan Torah:

Were the only purpose of Kerias Yam Suf to rescue the Jewishpeople from the pursuing Egyptians, G‑d could have just as easily saved them in any number of ways. He saved them specifically through the Splitting of the Sea, because the event itself served as a preparation and precursor to Matan Torah.

The concept and purpose of Matan Torah was the unification of the (concealed elements of the) spiritual world with the (revealed elements of the) physical world.9 Likewise, the preparation to Matan Torah was that of “transforming the sea into dry land,” i.e., that the Divine force concealed within creation — similar to the sea that conceals all that is within it — be as exposed and revealed as dry land.

All aspects within the world relate in some way to the Jewishpeople.10 Conversely, every deed accomplished by a Jew with regard to his personal spiritual service causes a similar action to be manifest within the world as a whole.11 Thus, the previously concealed G‑dliness revealed within the world at Kerias Yam Suf is related to the Jewishpeople having had revealed within them at that time the G‑dliness that was previously concealed inside them.

This is why there had to be “a wall on their right and on their left”; both the merit of Torah (“right”) as well as the merit of prayer or tefillin (“left”): Only through the spiritual service that contains both aspects of “right” and “left” can one reveal the true and inner concealed G‑dliness of the soul.

For as long as a person’s spiritual service is but one-dimensional, it is possible that his Divine service results from being naturally drawn to this form and manner of service. Multi-dimensional service, however, indicates that the person has nullified himself entirely before G‑d.

A person’s multi-dimensional service of G‑d cannot emanate merely from one’s nature, for a person’s natural demeanor is essentially one-dimensional; only utter and complete dedication to an infinite all-dimensional G‑d enables the individual to serve Him in the two completely opposite manners of spiritual service, “right” and “left.”12

Thus, it is specifically the multi-dimensional service of “on their right and on their left” that expresses devotion to G‑d which transcends the person’s nature and being — something that derives entirely from the concealed G‑dliness found within each and every Jewish soul, as the soul is “truly a part of G‑d above.”13 In turn, this brings about the revelation of G‑dliness that was previously concealed within the world — the transformation of the sea into dry land.

But this only explains why the aspect of Kerias Yam Suf that served as a preparation for Matan Torah had to be multi-dimensional. However, with regard to the protest, “They are both idolaters,” wouldn’t even a one-dimensional manner of Divine service have sufficed to answer this charge?

The ultimate purpose of the Exodus was Matan Torah. This is why the culmination of the Exodus as well — Kerias Yam Suf — had to be similar to Matan Torah. Not only were the Jewishpeople to escape the unholiness and limitations of Egypt — something they could achieve with but a one-dimensional degree of service — but as a preparation to Matan Torah they had to escape all boundaries and limitations, something only achievable through a multi-faceted and multi-dimensional manner of service.

Therefore, even with regard to ridding themselves of all manifestations of Egypt through Kerias Yam Suf, a single wall was insufficient — there had to be two walls, “on their right and on their left.”

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. III, pp. 966-971.