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Home » Environment, Re'e

Re’e: Infinitesimal Spec

Submitted by on August 13, 2006 – 3:50 amNo Comment | 1,196 views

Greater than Life

Do you ever get the feeling that you are, but an infinitesimal spec, swallowed by the vastness of the universe and beyond? That cosmic forces arrayed along your path lead you to a destiny greater than your imagination? That life as you know it barely scratches the surface?

Moses and Water

The name Moses means drawn, in Hebrew. Moses was thus called because he was drawn from the waters of the Nile as an infant. (1) The mystics understood  that water is a symbol of divinity. That Moses was drawn from water indicates that his soul was from a transcendental, spiritual realm that is beyond our scope of comprehension. (2)

Many key periods of Moses’ life were associated with water. He met his bride at a well and drew water for her. G-d identified him as the shepherd of Israel when he stood by a brook till his sheep drank their fill. He split the Reed Sea to provide salvation for his people. He was forbidden to enter into Israel because of an episode related to water. (3)

The episode of Moses drawing water from the well for his wife is described in the Torah in great detail. Not in the habit of relating historical tidbits for their own sake, the Torah’s tales are always instructive.

The mystics explained that in drawing water for his future wife, and by association, for us, Moses, man of G-d, manifested an awareness of G-d, otherwise prevalent only in the higher realms. He taught us that life without G-d is as insignificant as one droplet of water in an vast ocean filled with water. (4)

Busy Droplets

Our entire universe, our activities, concerns, indeed our very selves, are but a drop in G-d’s great ocean. There are billions of aqua bits in the ocean, one droplet is insignificant. Yet, each droplet it is a universe unto itself. They contain molecules atoms, oxygen hydrogen, protons, neutrons, quarks and electrons.

It is only a droplet, but it is a beehive of molecular activity. Each droplet contains millions of  molecules. To the molecules, the droplet seems as vast as the universe itself. Each molecule forms electrostatic associations with other molecules. Negative hydrogen protons in one molecule bond with positive oxygen protons in other molecules. The  bonding process is constant as protons form and dissolve their associations. Should these associations cease for even one moment the entire droplet would disintegrate.

Not only is there intense activity between molecules, each molecule is itself filled with activity. Electrons orbit in dizzying, but indeterminate, patterns. Hydrogen protons share their electrons with oxygen protons . Should a proton have one too many, or one too few, electrons the entire molecule would destabilize.

From time to time a hydrogen proton in one molecule jumps over into another molecule. This too destabilizes the molecule and sends into a frenzied search for a replacement.

Unimportant Molecules

If molecules could talk they would speak of their hectic days and of their frantic efforts to provide for their countless needs. To hear them tell it, their contributions are absolutely crucial and totally indispensable.

Unfortunately for them, water droplets really don’t matter. At the end of the day, it’s just a molecule. If it has the temerity to appear on my kitchen counter or mahogany table I simply wipe them dry. Millions of molecules, with a casual swipe of the hand.

Yet, tell that to the molecule. It’s atoms would be incensed! They devote their entire existence to stabilize the droplet’s chemical balance and you suggest they are meaningless! Yet, the oceans do not dry out and our water supply is not endangered when the molecular system of one droplet fails to right itself. In the greater scheme of things these molecules are unimportant.

Our own Little Droplets

Are we any different? We scuttle about all day, solving problems and putting out fires, working to balance our lives’ many needs. We provide for our family, raise our children and rise to prominence. We consider ourselves important, in fact, nearly indispensable. Yet the truth is that we are, from G-d’s perspective, a mere droplet in the ocean. Our material failures and successes do not impact the cosmic truth of his existence.

Material success, military victories, diplomatic triumphs and academic excellence are, within the bubble of our little droplet, legitimate aspirations, but on G-d’s plane they are trivial. G-d is as removed from such aspirations  as we are from water molecules. No matter how high we rise in commercial, diplomatic or academic stratospheres our success remains insignificant in the eyes of the divine.

By demonstrating that G-d is infinitely greater than ourselves Moses engendered within us a yearning for G-d. A yearning to harness our material gains to the service of G-d and thus lend cosmic meaning to our, otherwise, temporal existence. A yearning to to serve a purpose greater than ourselves and lend true meaning to life.

The Choice

The is the underpinning of the options presented by Moses in his final will and testament. Speaking in G-d’s name he declared,. “Behold, I place before you the option of goodness and life.” Choosing to live with G-d is the option of goodness and life.

It is good to break out of the molecule and become a part of the ocean. It is good to explore the inner streams of divinity through the study of G-d’s Torah and to flow with its current through the observing his commandments.

G-d does not ask us to discard our drive and talent for material gain. He asks that we sublimate our accomplishments and utilize them in the spirit of Torah.

Footnotes

  1. Exodus 2: 10. Fearing infanticide , his mother, Yocheved, hid him from Egyptian authorities. She placed him on a basket and set him upon the Nile. An Egyptian princess found him and rescued him. She called him, Moses, because he drew him from the waters of the Nile.
  2. Torah Ohr, Shemos, 51b(R. Schneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chassidus Chabad, 1745 – 1813). See also U’shavtem Mayim Besason, 5621(R.Menachem M. Schneerson, Third Rebbe of Lubavitch, 1789-1866). Note also that the prophet Isaiah spoke of a day when the world will fill with knowledge of G-d as waters cover the sea bed.
  3. Exodus 2: 15-21. Shemot Rabbah, 2: 2. Exodus 14: 15 Number 19: 4-14.
  4. Likutei Torah, Bamidbar, 88b (R. Schneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chassidus Chabad, 1745 – 1813). The Zohar describes Moses as a faithful shepherd. (Zohar III 225b) The Chassidic masters went one step further and described him as a shepherd of faith. He formulated and fortified Israel’s faith in G-d. (See Sefer hammamarim, 5687, p. 113 (R. YY Schneerson, sixth Rebbe of Lubavitch 1880-1950.)
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