As we prepare for the final two days of Passover, we must pause to reflect Ė why is Passover split into two? When we mark the last days of Succos, we are actually celebrating a separate holiday, called Shemini Atzeres, as evidenced by the fact that we donít take the lulav and esrog, and we say a new Shehecheyanu blessing. On the last days of Passover, we donít celebrate a new holiday, which is why we donít say a shehechiyanu blessing. Why then, is the holiday split into two?
When the Jewish people left Egypt, they left in two stages. On the fifteenth of Nissan, as Hashem killed all the first born Egyptians, the Jewish people were freed from Egypt. However, this was not a complete redemption. The Egyptian army was still intact, and could chase after the Jews, as they did actually did. On the Seventh day of Passover, when Pharaoh and his army were destroyed, the redemption process was complete. Now longer were the Egyptian people a threat to the Jews at all.
However, while this may explain why we split our celebration of the holiday into two, it still does not explain the obvious question. Why did Hashem redeem us in two parts? Why didnít He just destroy the Egyptians immediately, without us having to endure the pain and anguish of the crossing of the Sea of Reeds?
Another obvious question was be addressed: The Torah tells us after the splitting of the Sea, that the Jews believed in Hashem and in Moses his servant. (Exodus 14:31)What does this mean? Didnít they believe in Hashem until now?
There is no question that the level of faith that the Jewish people had when they left Egypt was remarkable. They walked into a dessert along with their entire families, and with no idea how they would survive the travel through such a barren and dangerous place. However, there was one more level to climb to. It is one thing to have absolute faith in Hashem while miracles are occurring, first born Egyptians are dieing, and an Exodus is occurring. It is another thing to live with that faith in every day life, as one is surrounded by forces of nature and must deal with them. When the Jews were totally surrounded by the powerful armies of Pharaoh and the waters of the sea, with no hope of survival, they turned to Hashem. The level they reached in trust of Hashem, in realizing that there is none else but Him who controls every single thing in this world, that everything happening to us is from Him, was absolute. This was the second stage of the redemption, that was needed to complete the Exodus. This new lesson of faith, that surrounds us constantly, daily, in every single aspect of our life, enabled us to be the people of Hashem forever.
Hopefully, as we celebrate Passover and ignite these feelings of faith that are in the hearts of every Jew, we will merit a new feeling of closeness and a new relationship to Hashem, to be taken with us throughout the year.