I guess we first need to validate the self for there to be self sacrifice. Well in 2023 there is no shortage of self validation.
So let’s move on to self sacrifice. Why am I writing about self sacrifice?
Because in this week’s portion the prototype of self sacrifice, Nachshon the son of Aminodov plays the hero.
The Jews stand at the sea, the Egyptians behind them, all hope is lost. Nachshon makes his way forward walking into the sea until it reaches his nostrils, his breathing is threatened and the miracle occurs, the sea splits; the value of self sacrifice is born.
Now for the American Jew for the most part and for most of you reading this, we live in peaceful times and don’t have to face the music of self sacrifice each day. So where do we get to live this value in our lives?
(BTW this is a big deal if you think about it, because for most of our Jewish history, self sacrifice was a literal event. It hasn’t been this good in quite some thousands of years.)
We can actually learn from Nachshon how to live this in 2023.
Nachshon knew that G-d had instructed the Jewish People to go to Sinai. That was the mission. Encountering a sea and concerns around that was the self speaking. Self sacrifice was listening to G-d’s voice and not letting the self distract.
In our lives that means; we know what Hashem wants from us, we know what act we need to take now that is living higher, the self wants us to do something different. Self sacrifice means not listening to the self and instead listening to the higher voice, ie. sacrificing the self for the higher.
What are you facing in your life that has the voice of Hashem (or the higher voice) speaking and the self busy analyzing? Can you jump into the sea and move forward? Can you have the self sacrifice to do this?
Call upon your inner voice, the voice of the soul, and jump into the sea. You’ll be glad you did, and it’s always pretty cool when the sea splits.
With blessings and good Shabbos!
Rabbi Mendel Schusterman
Thanks to my brother, Rabbi Eliyahu Schusterman, Chabad Intown, Atlanta, for sharing the above thought.