May 1, 2009

Splitting of the Sea

April 15 - Splitting of the Sea
The downside of chol hamoed: you finally get a taste of sunshine and freedom and then it’s back to the kitchen, cooking for yet another yom tov!

This Pesach, we were a team of many cooks, so we got the job done fast. The Yom Tov that marks the seventh day of Pesach signifies the time when the Jews reached the Sea of Reeds and when it miraculously split, allowing them to cross safely. We are told that this happened around midnight.

After dinner that night, we gathered for a Torah shiur given by Mordechai Zeller in the Sarraya. It started around 9:30 and despite the late starting time, many people were there, eager to learn. We were all tired, but the class was fascinating. Just before midnight, Mordechai asked us all to go outside. The wind was blowing. It was stormy and cold. There had been some lightning earlier on. The weather was very fitting as the Torah tells us that before the splitting of the sea, the wind raged and raged.

We huddled outside in the wind. Mordechai asked us to form two lines, one of men and one of women. We must have been close to fifty people, all miraculously awake in the depths of the night. We linked arms and he told us to imagine that each line was either side of the split sea, a sort of supporting wall. We were to individually pass through this line, thinking about how we want to be transformed. Just as the Jews left Egypt and a life of slavery, we too must leave behind those things that keep us in a sort of personal bondage. The journey through the sea and to the other side, he explained, was a trip across the subconscious, a kind of rebirth.

We were all silent as each person took their journey. It was an amazing opportunity, a markedly Tsfat moment, although I found it to be a bit intimidating. If only self-growth could be so easy!

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