by Yehoshua Metzinger
day of Pesach we say the Hallel prayer, which contains a description of the exodus
from Egypt, the splitting of the Red Sea, and many other miracles connected with
these events. "The sea saw and fled, the Jordan turned backward. The mountains
skipped like rams, the hills like young sheep." (Psalms 114:3) What quality
do the mountains have that causes them to skip, and why do the waters flee?
Alter Rebbe explains that these two miracles represent two kinds of service to
G-d: one motivated by fear, the other by love. The sea, like a servant, flees
when the king reveals himself because he is afraid that the king is displeased
with him. The mountains, like a loyal minister, are joyful when the king arrives
and greets him, eager to carry out his every command. This joy is expressed by
the skipping of the mountains which represent the world of Atzilut, where all
souls share a common root and are like brothers to one another and to G-d.
The concept of the source of the neshamot in Atzilut is connected with another
miracle that occurred during the parting of the Red Sea. The Jewish People walking
on dry land in the middle of the sea is similar to the way their souls rose in
the mind of G-d. How are these two things connected? According to the Arizal,
the Seventh Day of Pesach, a commemoration of the parting of the Red Sea, is also
the day when the neshamot of the Jewish People were "born" - or brought
down from Atzilut. True, they already had souls, but this event was the revelation
of the higher level of the neshamot.
How did this "birth" take
As mentioned above, all neshamot have their source in Atzilut
where there is a complete unity among them and with G-d. This level of unity is
ideal, but for a soul to exist as a separate entity and to be born, it must descend
to the lower level of Beriya through malchut. This process is similar to that
Before one speaks, the words are not yet formed, but the idea
of what is going to be said is unified in the mind. Even when the idea of the
words begins to emerge, this idea is still one idea. Once the words descend to
a lower level and leave the mouth, they are separate from the intellect. Malchut
represents the mouth in the process of speech, and it also represents the sea,
the part of the physical world which is concealed from view under the water.
The concealment by the aspect of malchut is necessary for any birth or creation.
Created things do not see or hear the words of G-d as the words are creating them;
if they could perceive these words, their existence would be nullified to the
words, just as rays of the sun can hardly be distinguished from the sun itself.
Even the angels in the higher worlds understand clearly that they are created
from the speech of G-d, and this knowledge fills them with awe and love for their
Creator. However, the process of their creation is concealed from them also in
the aspect of malchut.
The concealment period or "pregnancy"
of the neshamot begins on Shemini Atzeret. The neshamot are brought from highest
aspect within Atzilut to malchut of Atzilut where they remain for seven months
until they descend on the seventh day of Pesach. Just as the human fetus receives
nourishment from its mother while it grows in the womb, so the neshamot receive
their nourishment from malchut of Atzilut. The neshamot remain there for seven
months until they descend on the seventh day of Pesach. When we ask for rain on
Shemini Atzeret, we are also asking for a successful "birth" of the
neshamot seven months later.
What energy propels the actual birth and
creates "contractions"? The energy must come from a higher level than
Atzilut in order to "shake up" Atzilut and release the neshamot. This
energy is the light from the first letter "hei" in G-d's name and serves
as a catalyst for the "birth". The impact of this energy from beyond
the levels of the worlds is like the supernaturally strong winds that G-d sent
to split the sea. The energy that propelled the winds is from the encompassing
light and breaks the sea, which conceals the supreme levels of G-dliness. When
the encompassing light split the sea, the mountains, representing the sefirot
of chesed, gevura and tiferet, began to dance, since these attributes are above
the level of the sea, which represents concealment.
The skipping of the
mountains shows us that, at such a time, one can reach higher levels by "skipping"
from the lowest to the highest levels instead of merely "stepping",
progressing one level after another in sequence. The seventh day of Pesach, then,
is like a day of renewal for the neshamot of Israel, a day when any Jew can "skip"
to his or her highest spiritual potential.
(from Likkutei Torah, "Hayam
Ra'ah Vyanos", page 16)
Yehoshua Metzinger of
Nahariya, a former counselor at Ascent, is now married and living in Jerusalem.