Friday, February 06, 2009

Us, As People

The Midrash and the Zohar state that the original creation of the sea was conditional upon its splitting for the sake of the Jewish people when they would escape the Egyptians, 2,448 years later. The sages teach that G-d made it clear with the sea that if it did not agree to change its nature at the moment of calling, He would not bring it into existence. The sea -- like any good businessman would do -- asked G-d to see one of those "Jews" for whom it would need to change its nature and split its "identity" many years down the line. When the sea observed the souls of the Jews in heaven, it melted away in joy and ecstasy. Observing the unparalleled greatness and untold depth of a Yiddishe neshamah, of that Divine spark embodying the goodness, holiness, dignity and G-dliness of its Creator, the sea declared to G-d, "If it is for these souls that I need to split, it would be my greatest honor and pleasure. For these souls I'd remain split for 1,000 years. These are my type of guys."

Now, let us travel forward 2,448 years. The Jews have just left Egypt, after spending 210 years in the most morally depraved society on earth. For more then half of that time they were enslaved, abused, violated and tortured. Now, upon liberation, they are exhausted, devastated and broken. After all the darkness and pain they have experienced, at the moment when they think their moment of liberty has arrived, they find themselves trapped between a cruel army and an indifferent sea.
"Why should I split?" asked the sea. "Sorry, but these are not the same people I have observed in the past. These are not the same souls I saw in heaven 2,448 years ago. The souls I saw then were limitless in their depth, splendid in their dignity, glorious in their spirit. These people in front of me are grouchy, frustrated, divisive, filled with anger, fear and a negative attitude."
The sea refused to part. saw the casket of Joseph.

Who was Joseph?
The mystics explain that Joseph's depth of morality and holiness was concealed behind the dense facade of an Egyptian statesman. On the outside, Joseph seemed no more than a tremendously handsome young man, charming and charismatic, skilled as a diplomat and politician with endless ambition. It was not easy to realize that beneath these qualities lay a soul on fire with spiritual passion, a kindred spirit for whom the moral legacy of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob remained the epicenter of his life; a heart in love with G-d.

In a way, Joseph's casket was whispering this message to the sea: When you gaze at another human being, do not make the same error that others make when they gaze at you. Some simple folks look at you, dear sea, and assume that there is nothing beneath your bed of water. But who better then you knows the truth, that underlying your facade of water, lies an entire exquisite universe!

Upon this realization, the sea parted before the Jews.


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