Vayomer YHVH el Moshe: “Ma titz’ak ei’lai? Da’ber el B’nai Yisrael v’yisa’u!”
Then YHVH said to Moses: “Why are you crying out to me? Speak to the Children of Israel, and tell them to get moving!” (Exodus 13:15)
The Children of Israel stand at the edge of the Sea. There is no way out. Pharaoh and his army are bearing down on them from the west, the vast sea stretches out to the east. They are trapped. They are petrified, and they cry to Moses, “Was it for want of graves in Egypt that you have taken us out here to die in the desert? What have you done taking us out of Egypt? Didn’t we tell you back in Egypt not to do this?” Moses replies, “Do not fear! Stand firm! You will see that YHVH will save you…and you, be silent!” (Ex. 13:11-14)
Picture this desperate scene. There is truly no way out. Moses’ reassurance rings hollow. Stand here and be quiet? Is that not certain death?
And what does YHVH tell Moses? YHVH does not say, “Good for you, Moses, I’ll handle it from here.” No, in one of the more surprising lines in the Torah, YHVH declares: “Why are you crying out to me? Speak to the Children of Israel, and tell them to get moving!” (13:15)
The plain meaning of the command is clear: you will not be saved without your participation in the task. Get moving! Who cannot relate to this truth of human experience?