Ever feel like your back is against a wall? Although I’m not Jewish, I’ve learned a few things from Torah. Little things like: the only reality is Hashem. Yes, that can be a tough one to remember. As Einstein said, “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” Second thing: everything, I mean everything that happens to us is for our good and stems from Hashem’s kindness. That can be hard to remember too, especially when it feels like a giant hand has us pinned hard against a wall. If we could only catch our breath in spite of the vice grip around our necks we would yell, “This is from Hashem? This is for my good!?!”
I felt pushed against a wall after an unnerving medical diagnosis. I called my spiritual mentor in Israel and he comforted me by saying, “Hashem is allowing this to happen for a reason. There is nothing as precious to Him as when we cry out to Him, so He often allows us to be pushed up against a wall, just so we will cry out to Him.” And cry out I did. But I cried in calmness after being reminded that the hand pushing me against the wall was the same hand that would save me.
The Jews experienced an overwhelming back-against-the-wall moment when they left Egypt and found themselves trapped between the Sea of Reeds and the Egyptian army pursuing them. Their situation looked hopeless. So Moses cried out to Hashem, and well, you know the rest of the story. The Jews were delivered through, not from, a situation that had first seemed like their demise. The water that had been a wall they were pinned against, became the walls of the corridor of their deliverance.
Safe on the other side and able to look back, every person, from the most elevated soul to the lowliest soul, had a momentary glimpse of clarity. A moment of clearly understanding why they went through all the hardships of being enslaved in Egypt and how it was Divinely orchestrated. This momentary glimpse was called “The Song of the Sea.”
Rabbi Sampson Raphael Hirsch defines such a song as “an inspired or rapturous expression of what some external event has revealed to the inner self, that which the physical eye cannot see, but what has become clear to the mind’s eye.”
I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that some of you need such a glimpse; your own Song of the Sea, a momentary assurance (even if it’s just for a split second) that there is a Divine reason for everything you are going through. Perhaps you’ve cried out to Hashem so much that you wonder if He’s even listening anymore. He is always listening. But perhaps now He is telling you to listen, and more importantly, to see. See beyond what your physical eyes see. See that there really is a reason for what you are going through and that there really is deliverance for you, and that your deliverance begins with knowledge that Hashem is the only reality. Everything else is an illusion, albeit, a persistent one.
The month of Shevat is the month of water. So it’s no coincidence that you might feel like you are drowning. Psalm 32:6 reminds us how to pray when we feel like we are drowning, “. . . only that the flooding, mighty waters not overtake me. You are a shelter for me. You preserve me, with glad song of rescue You envelop me!”
The song of rescue is the revelation that everything in the Torah points us towards — the Oneness of Hashem, that He is the only reality. Your existence is in Him, therefore everything that you are going through is happening within those boundaries, i.e. in Him.
The Prophet Isaiah tells us that one day the knowledge of Hashem will cover the earth as much as water covers the sea bed. The result of this influx of knowledge is described in Zechariah 14:9, “Hashem will be King over all, and on that day Hashem will be One and His name will be One.” In other words, the Song of the Sea will no longer be a momentary glimpse, it will become the on-going reality, the song that never ends. Hashem’s Oneness, His existence, will be so obvious that everyone will see His Divine orchestration in every second of every moment. Until that day though, may the waters that seem to be overwhelming you become waters of Torah knowledge instead, bringing you the peace and assurance of knowing that your existence is in the Oneness of Hashem.