freezing the depths

The Ohr HaHayyim (R' Hayyim Ibn Attar who lived here in Jerusalem) said something very interesting about the splitting of the sea which I had never heard before. He said the easterly wind that is mentioned blew not to split the waters, but rather to 'harden' the depths of the sea, so that when the Israelites crossed, they wouldn't have to descend to the sea floor and then ascend again on the other side. When it says the sea became like dry land, the Ohr HaHayyim explains, it doesn't mean the sea made way for dry land, but the depths of the sea transformed into solid matter as if it were dry land. According to the Ohr HaHayyim only the upper waters of the sea actually split. 

It paints a very different picture and makes a lot of sense, if the sea had simply split, Bnei Yisrael would have had to traverse quite a distance, and the descent [at the beginning] and climb [at the end] would have been difficult for the children and the elderly.


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