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Who Created These? - וארא

Friday, 4 January, 2019 - 11:11 am

s.jpgWho Created These?

When you look at a beautiful painting, do you only see the art or does the art lead you to think about the artist? When you see a beautifully prepared feast, do you see the food exclusively or does the aroma and taste lead you to think about the chef?   

When you look at a sunset, at ocean waves crashing onto the shore or at a brilliant night sky, what do you see? Some see mother nature in all her glory: the predictable, unchanging patterns of the natural order. Seeing the beauty and mystery of the universe intrigues one to study the earth’s secrets, to discover the laws by which it operates, and to harness its awesome strength.

Others see more than a natural world.

The prophet Isaiah tells us: “Lift up your eyes on high and see, who created these”. (Isaiah 40:26). Pondering the magnificent and awesome universe, says Isaiah, will lead us to ask the question: “who created these”. By asking “who created these” the creation itself leads us to the know and to experience the creator.

Egypt, or Mitzrayim in Hebrew, was the most advanced society of the ancient world, their understanding of science was unparalleled in that era. They were the experts in harnessing the power of nature to their advantage. But they were in spiritual constraint. They studied the universe, they worshiped nature, but did not ask the most important question: “who created these?”. This is the question that is the path to discovery of meaning, morals and ethics, for the “who created these?” leads to asking “why did He create?”. “What does the creator expect of us?”.

The Kabbalists explain that Mitzrayim, the Hebrew word for Egypt, is comprised of the words “Meitzar Yam”. “Meitzar”- means constraints, and the letters “Yud” and “Mem” create the word “Mi”  which means, “who”. In other words, Egypt, Mitzrayim, is a culture where constraints are able to ask the question “who?” The Egyptian culture encouraged asking all sorts of questions about the universe, except for the question that would  lead to freedom from the constraints of the material world, the question that would lead toward the liberating connection with the creator. Egypt, Mitzraim, constrains the “who?”, it distracts  from Isaiah's plea “Lift up your eyes on high and see, who created these”.

Being in Egypt means to look at nature and see a set of laws that rule supreme. Trapping man in its grip, enslaving him to his natural habits, temptations and shortcomings.The Torah tells us that we must remember the exodus from  Egypt all the days of our life, for each and every day we are called upon to break free of our limitations, of the constraints that hold us back from being the person we want to be and from living the life we are capable of living. We are liberated from Egypt when looking at nature brings us to the recognize the creator who gifts us of his infinity, allowing us to break free of the confines of the natural and predictable order, and to create change in our own society and in our personal life.

Thus, twice a day we cover our eyes and say the most important Jewish prayer: “Hear O  Israel, Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is One”. The word “hear”, “Shema”, is an acronym for the words, “Siuh Marom Einichem” “lift up your eyes on high”. Saying the Shema allows us to look at nature and experience the creator of the universe. Saying the Shema, lifting our eyes heavenward, empowers us to transcend the confines of the limited reality by connecting to His transcendent existence.

(Adapted from Shabos hagadol 5679)

 

 

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