Fight or Flight by Rabbi David Bassous

The fight-or-flight response, also known as the acute stress response, refers to a physiological reaction that occurs in the presence of something that is terrifying, either mentally or physically. The response is triggered by the release of hormones that prepare your body to either stay and deal with a threat or to run away to safety.

The term 'fight-or-flight' represents the choices that we make when faced with a danger in their environment. In either case, the physiological and psychological response to stress prepares the body to react to the danger.

The fight-or-flight response was first described in the 1920s by American physiologist Walter Cannon. Cannon realized that a chain of rapidly occurring reactions inside the body helped to mobilize the body's resources to deal with threatening circumstances. Today the fight-or-flight response is recognized as part of the first stage of Hans Selye's general adaptation syndrome, a theory describing the stress response.

When the newly free Jewish slaves left Egypt and were camped by the Reed Sea they notice a rapidly approaching dust cloud behind them. It was Pharaoh and his entire army, they were terrified.

Exodus 14:13–15 The first four statements that Moses makes in these two verses presupposes the four fear responses the Israelites had when pinned between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea.

To those who wanted to commit suicide by fleeing, and since there was nowhere to go, fleeing meant certain death either by drowning in the sea or by Pharaoh’s army, Moses said, “Do not be afraid. Stand still and see the salvation of God.”

To those who wanted to go back to Egypt, Moses said, “The Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see no more.

To those who wanted to fight, Moses said, “God will fight for you, and you be silent.”

To those who wanted to just complain, or even to pray about their plight, God said, “Why are you cying out to me.”

When faced with similar impossible situations, we typically have the same responses as that of the children of Israel, when all we have to do is to stand still in faith and wait on God to supernaturally deliver us. But there’s more. Faith isn’t passive. It’s active. This is where the fifth statement comes in to play.

God commanded Moses to tell the Israelites to Journey forward - confront your fears including the fear of death and step into the Reed Sea! Nachshon ben Aminadav brother of Aaron’s wife Elisheva lead the way and then the sea split.

This is a lesson to all of us in our times of trouble and panic: step back, have faith and then make the right decision and moves to sort out the situation.