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August 25, 2016 / 21 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Red Sea’

The Continuing Story of Yetziyas Mitzrayim

Monday, April 16th, 2012

         “And Hashem told Moshe, lift up thy rod over the sea and divide it”… And Moshe ordered the sea to divide.

         But the sea refused. “Why should I obey you,” it said, “You are but a man born of a woman and besides, I am three days older than you, I was established on the third day of creation, and you were created on the sixth day.”

         Moshe relayed what happened to the Almighty and prayed for help.  “Now is not the time for prayer,” said Hashem, “Lift up thy rod…”

         Immediately Moshe picked up his rod. The sea, however, remained very obstinate. Moshe then pleaded with Hashem that He should command the sea to divide. But the Almighty refused saying, “Were I to order the sea to divide it would never return to its former status. However, I will clothe you with a semblance of My strength to command its obedience.”

         When the sea saw Hashem’s strength on the right of Moshe, it became terrified. “Make way for me so that I may hide from the Lord of Hosts,” pleaded the sea.

         The waters of the Red Sea then divided and a miracle occurred throughout the world – all the waters in wells, caves, rivers and even in glasses also divided and remained so until Bnei Yisrael passed through the sea.

The Ten Miracles

         A number of miracles occurred at the Red Sea. 1. The waters of the sea formed a canopy over Bnei Yisrael’s heads. 2. Twelve separate lanes opened up, one for each of the shevatim. 3. The water between the shevatim became transparent as glass so they could all see each other. 4. The ground beneath was dry and warm, but it soon changed to a mire of mud when the Egyptians stepped into it. 5. The walls of the sea changed to jagged stone when the Egyptians entered and they were bruised terribly. 6. A stream of sweet drinking water flowed alongside Bnei Yisrael to quench their thirst. 7. Different types of fruit – apples, oranges, plums, etc. – extended from the walls of the sea allowing Bnei Yisrael to feast as they walked through the sea. 8. The reflection of these miracles was portrayed upon the clouds, which mirrored them to all the nations of the world who were awed by the stupendous might of G-d.

         And the Egyptians were smitten with the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire. The pillar of cloud made the soil miry and the mire was heated to the boiling point so that the hoofs of the horses fell off and they could not budge from the spot. The torture of the Egyptians in the Red Sea was far worse than the pain they suffered through the plagues in Egypt, for they were delivered into the hands of the Angel of Destruction who battered them continuously. Had G-d not provided them with a double portion of strength they could not have withstood the pain. The Egyptians were tossed and shaken as peas in a pot. The rider and his horse were tossed high into the sky and then the two together were hurled to the bottom of the sea.

         And so all of the Egyptians were drowned. All except one, Pharaoh. When he heard Bnei Yisrael raise their voices in song, he pointed his finger heavenward and called out, “I believe in Thee, G-d. Thou art righteous and I am wicked and I now acknowledge that there is no G-d in the world beside Thee.” Immediately Gabriel descended and, placing an iron chain on his neck, raised him from the depths of the water. “Villain,” he said. “Yesterday you boasted, ‘Who is the Lord?’ and now you say, ‘The Lord is righteous.’” Whereupon he dropped him into the depths of the sea and kept him there for 50 days, showing him the ways of G-d. Later he installed him as king of the great city of Nineveh, for Pharaoh feared to return to Egypt.

         After many years, when Jonah came to Nineveh and prophesied the destruction of the city because of its inhabitants’ evil, it was Pharaoh who, seized by fear and terror, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. Having learned his lesson, Pharaoh issued the decree throughout Nineveh. “Let no one eat or drink, for I know that there is no G-d in all the world save Him. All His words are truth and all His judgments are true and faithful”
(Sotah 36, 37; Megillah 10; Pesachim 118; Midrash Shemos, Mechilta).

Rabbi Sholom Klass

Pesach

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

On April 14, 1912, at 11:40 p.m., the Titanic struck an iceberg. It sank at 2:20 a.m. on April 15. Thus, this month (both according to the Jewish and secular calendars) marks the centennial of the disaster. Despite the passage of time, the tragedy still fascinates people and continues to be a source of lessons learned – both good and bad. Recently, when the Costa Concordia sank off the Italian coast, comparisons were made between the captain of this ill-fated ship and Captain Edward Smith, the master of the Titanic. Most striking was the fact that not only did the captain of the Costa Concordia survive the ordeal, as opposed to Captain Smith, who went down with his ship, but that the Costa Concordia’s captain abandoned ship early in the ordeal, leaving his crew and passengers to sort things out for themselves. Captain Smith, in contrast, remained on board and in command throughout the doomed lifesaving efforts. History, for the most part, has been kind to Smith, portraying him as a gallant officer doing his utmost to save his passengers and crew.

While Smith was no coward, and he certainly understood his responsibility, the truth about his leadership is actually rather complicated. Some have blamed him for ordering the Titanic to maintain its high speed despite the ice warnings he had received. Others point to his arrogant faith in human engineering, which caused him to not properly consider the dangers lurking in the sea. However, in truth, he can be exonerated for these missteps, for he was merely following the conventional practice and wisdom of the time. Captains, for the most part, believed the expedient thing was to try and get through ice fields as quickly as possible. It was felt that lookouts could spot potential danger in time and helmsmen could maneuver the ship accordingly, with time to spare. That few people fully understood the physics involved with moving and slowing down a ship the Titanic’s size was a function of the time, not a failure on Smith’s part.

But the story does not end there. Once tragedy struck Smith seems to have been a mediocre leader at best. He first kept the true nature of the accident from crew and passengers alike, thus mitigating people’s sense of emergency and urgency. While Smith knew there were not enough lifeboats for all aboard, the sad reality is that there was capacity for 400 more people than ultimately survived. Many people who could have boarded lifeboats refused to do so because they felt it was safer to remain on the ship. He also seems to have given ambiguous orders, often staying on the bridge instead of actively supervising the evacuation. Psychologists who have studied the disaster suggest that Smith became somewhat dysfunctional after the collision.

However, there is a person whose actions that night make him a leadership model to study. Captain Arthur Rostron of the Carpathia, the ship that rushed to Titanic’s location and rescued the survivors, did almost everything right that night. After having been awakened close to 12:30 a.m. on April 15 and informed of the Titanic’s plight, Rostron immediately went into action. He summoned all department heads to the bridge and began issuing clear orders. He ordered the engineers to divert all steam to the engines and away from all other uses – including the heating and electrical needs of cabins and public rooms. This enabled the ship to travel somewhat faster than its usual top speed. He also told the chief steward: “Have your men turn all three dining rooms into hospitals. Send bedroom stewards through empty third class cabins and gather up blankets to warm on the boilers. I want plenty of hot coffee, cocoa, and brandy at both port doors” (Titanic Tragedy: A New Look At The Lost Liner by John Maxtone-Graham, 2011, p.140). He then ordered ladders and other boarding devices, and special lights, to be at the doors to enable safe boarding. To ensure the safety of his ship he posted extra lookouts to spot icebergs.

Unfortunately, the Carpathia arrived after the Titanic sank and was only able to rescue those people who were in the lifeboats. However, if not for Captain Rostron’s decisive and inspired leadership that night many of those people in the lifeboats might themselves have succumbed to the elements. That night Rostron was present, focused and involved.

On the seventh day of Pesach we read in the Torah about the miracle of the Red Sea crossing. Thousands of years ago Moshe Rabbeinu already taught the world what leadership against the backdrop of a dangerous sea is all about. Bnei Yisrael had just recently left Egypt and suddenly their erstwhile masters were charging at them with state of the art military forces. They had barely tasted the fruits of freedom when they seemed poised to suffer a humiliating recapture or even worse– death. Bnei Yisrael could not fathom why G-d freed them if this were to be the ignoble outcome. It is within this context that they panicked and exclaimed to Moshe that it would have been better to remain in Egypt. If their fate was to be death, there were more than enough graves in Egypt.

Rabbi David Hertzberg

Yoram Ettinger: Passover – An Inalienable American Value

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

http://www.theettingerreport.com/OpEd/OpEd—Israel-Hayom/Passover-%E2%80%93-An-Inalienable-American-Value.aspx

 

Passover, and especially the legacy of Moses and the Exodus, has been part of the American story since the seventeenth century, inspiring the American pursuit of liberty, justice, and morality.

The special role played by Passover – and the Bible – in shaping the American state of mind constitutes the foundation of the unique relations between the American people and the Jewish state. As important as the current mutual threats and interests between the US and Israel are, the bedrock of the unbreakable US-Israel alliance are entrenched values, principles and legacies, such as Passover.

In 1620 and 1630, William Bradford and John Winthrop delivered sermons on the Mayflower and Arbella, referring to the deliverance from “modern day Egypt and Pharaoh,” to “the crossing of the modern day Red Sea” and to New Zion/Canaan as the destination of the Pilgrims on board.

In 1776, Thomas Paine, the author of Common Sense (which cemented public support for the revolution), referred to King George as the “hardened, sullen tempered Pharaoh.” Upon declaration of independence, Benjamin Franklin (the most secular Founding Father), John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, the second third American Presidents respectively, proposed a Passover theme for the official US seal: the Pillar of Fire leading Moses and the Israelites through the Red Sea, while Pharaoh’s chariots drown in the Sea. The inscription on the seal was supposed to be: “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God,” framing the rebellion against the British monarchy as principle-driven. The lessons of the Jewish deliverance from Egyptian bondage reverberated thunderously among the Rebels, who considered the thirteen colonies to be “the modern day Twelve Tribes.”

The 19th century Abolitionists, and the Civil Rights movement from the 1940s to the 1970s, were inspired by the ethos of the Exodus and by the Bible’s opposition to slavery. In the 1830s, the Liberty Bell, an icon of American independence, was adopted by the Abolitionists, due to its Exodus-inspired inscription: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof” (Leviticus 25:10). Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), and her husband, Calvin Ellis Stowe (“The Little Rabbi”) were scholars of the Bible and the Exodus. Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery in 1849 and freed Black slaves on the Underground Railroad, earned the name “Moses.” The 1879/80 Black slaves who ran away to Kansas were called “the Exodusters.” The most famous spiritual, “Go Down, Moses” was considered the unofficial national anthem of Black slaves.

In 1865, following the murder of President Lincoln, most eulogies compared him to Moses. Just like Moses, Lincoln liberated slaves, but was stopped short of the Promised Land.France paid tribute to the martyred Lincoln by erecting the Statue of Liberty, featuring rays of sun and a tablet, just like the glaring Moses descending from Mount Sinai with the Two Tablets of the Ten Commandments.

In 1954, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. compared the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision to desegregate public schools to the parting of the Red Sea. In 1964, upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. King proclaimed: “Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself. The Bible tells the thrilling story of how Moses stood in Pharaoh’s court centuries ago and cried, ‘Let my people go.’”

President Reagan mentioned (Reagan at Westminster, 2010) Exodus as the first incident in a long line of Western resistance to tyranny: “Since the exodus from Egypt, historians have written of those who sacrificed and struggled for freedom – the stand at Thermopylae, the revolt of Spartacus, the storming of the Bastille, the Warsaw uprising in World War II.”

In July, 2003, President Bush stated, in Senegal, that “in America, enslaved Africans learned the story of the exodus from Egypt, and set their own hearts on a promised land of freedom.”

In March, 2007, Senator Obama said in Selma, Alabama that the civil rights pioneers were the “Moses generation” and he was part of the “Joshua generation” that would “find our way across the river.”

And today, in 2012, a statue of Moses stares at the Speaker of the House, another towers above the seats of the Supreme Court Justices, a Ten Commandment monument sits on the ground of the Texas State Capitol, and a similar monument will be shortly erected on the ground of the Oklahoma State Capitol.

In 2012, the leader of the Free World and its sole soul ally in the Mid-East, Israel, are facing the most lethal threat to liberty since 1945 – conventional and non-conventional Islamic terrorism. Adherence to the legacy of Passover, marshaling the conviction-driven leadership of Moses, and demonstrating Joshua and Caleb’s courage and defiance of odds, will once again facilitate the victory of liberty over tyranny.

Yoram Ettinger

J.E. Dyer: Strategic Ambiguity Watch – The Maritime Version

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

No sooner do we establish that (a) Iran wants strategic ambiguity, and (b) Iran’s got it, than we see a fresh round of strategic ambiguity busting out.  Strategic ambiguity looks to be the gift that will keep on giving.

You might think the big news from the last 24 hours would be the report that Iran declined to load a Greek tanker with oil for Greek refineries, thus sparking concerns that the Iranians will cut off oil to hard-pressed Greece entirely.  Tehran has already officially stopped deliveries to France and the UK.  The Europeans are worried that a cut in Iranian oil could sink any hope of a recovery for the Greeks – and that Iran might threaten to extend the embargo to Italy, which also depends on Iranian oil.

In the wake of this report, the Iranian government hastened to announce that it hasn’t cut off shipments to Greece.  So it isn’t clear what’s going on, and strategic ambiguity can check another item off the to-do list.   Gasoline has surged to about $8.10 a gallon in the UK (not yet the $9.00 a gallon being trumpeted by Iranian media), so – check, check!

But that’s not really the big news.  The big news is that the Iranian parliament is working on legislation that would require foreign warships to obtain permission from Iran to pass through the Strait of Hormuz.  How could Iran enforce such a requirement?  Well, that’s exactly the fun of strategic ambiguity.   Maybe they’ll try, and maybe they won’t.  As the Iranians say, ‘it will depend on us.’

Apart from a last-ditch resort to something like mining the Strait of Hormuz (SOH), the most likely Iranian approach would be to take advantage of an incident in the SOH, or even create one, to justify cranking up Iranian oversight of “safety and security” by half a notch or so.  A diplomatic win on that exploratory probe could be leveraged to increase Iran’s effective control incrementally – unless each new measure was directly challenged.  If the US were unwilling to do the challenging, strategic ambiguity would be a lot more fun for Iran than for the rest of us.

You do need a quiescent partner on the other side of the Strait for an oblique approach of this kind.  And sure enough, besides conducting a naval exercise in the Strait of Hormuz (SOH) in mid-February, Iran concluded a new naval cooperation agreement with Oman on the 12th, and plans to conduct a joint naval exercise with Oman in March.  Earlier in February, moreover, the Iranian navy’s commander stated that the Iranian naval task force in the Red Sea would visit the port of Salalah, Oman in March.  That would be a first since the 1979 revolution, and would put the Iranian navy in the company of all the other global navies in the region (including the US Navy), which visit the major port of Salalah on a regular basis.  Iran is establishing a new naval posture as we speak.

The new Iranian naval posture extends its strategic ambiguity to Saudi Arabia.  During the Iranian task force’s triumphal sideswipe at Syria – where the ships reportedly entered port, although the Pentagon “has no evidence of it” (see my comment at this link for a summary of data points on the question) – an Iranian parliamentarian announced that Iran was displaying her naval power in the region, as a warning and a portent.  The ships had stopped in Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea port of Jeddah on the way to the Mediterranean, so this saber-rattling didn’t sit well with the Saudis.

Therefore, the Saudi ministry of defense has just issued a statement clarifying the basis on which it authorized the Iranian warships to visit Jeddah.  And the salient point is that Saudi Arabia wasn’t down for the “naval warning” business.  The Saudis understood they were agreeing to a port visit for ships on a training cruise.

In general, the Saudis are feeling squeezed by Iran; a Die Welt report from 15 February, summarized at the al-Akhbar website on the 21st, indicated that Riyadh sponsored a Gulf States  meeting in January to discuss Iran’s continued arms sales to Hezbollah.  The Saudis didn’t openly disclose anything we don’t already know about the Iranian smuggling routes, but apparently they excluded Qatar from the meeting, because they don’t consider the emirate “reliable on issues related to Iran.”

Meanwhile, down south of the Saudi border, Iran continues to supply the Houthi rebels in Yemen – a Shia group that operates as a scourge of Riyadh as well as Sana’a.  On 15 February, Yemeni authorities reported intercepting another ship from Iran carrying heavy weapons for the Houthis.  It is accepted fact in the Arabian Peninsula that Iran’s paramilitary operates from islands in the southern Red Sea, supporting activities in both Yemen and Eritrea.  In a recently translated al-Arabiya interview from June 2011, a Kuwaiti professor stated that Iran leases three islands from Eritrea and uses them for military training.

J. E. Dyer

The Supernatural Miracle

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

In September 2010, BBC, Reuters and other news agencies reported on a sensational scientific discovery. Researchers at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Colorado showed through computer simulation how the division of the Red Sea might have taken place.

By sophisticated modeling, they demonstrated how a strong east wind, blowing overnight, could have pushed water back at a bend where an ancient river is believed to have merged with a coastal lagoon. Sixty-three mph winds from the east could have pushed the water back at an ancient river bend. The water would have been pushed back into the two waterways, and a land bridge would have opened at the bend, allowing people to walk across the exposed mud flats. As soon as the wind died down, the waters would have rushed back in. As the leader of the project said when the report was published: “The simulations match fairly closely with the account in Exodus.”

So we now have scientific evidence to support the biblical account, though to be fair, a very similar case was made some years ago by Colin Humphreys, professor of Materials Science at Cambridge University and professor of Experimental Physics at the Royal Institution in London, in his book, The Miracles of Exodus.

To me, though, the real issue is what the biblical account actually is, because it is just here that we have one of the most fascinating features of the way the Torah tells its stories. Here is the key passage: “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left” (Exodus 14:21-22).

The passage can be read two ways. The first is that what happened was a suspension of the laws of nature. It was a supernatural event. The waters stood, literally, like a wall.

The second is that what happened was miraculous, not because the laws of nature were suspended. To the contrary, as the computer simulation shows, the exposure of dry land at a particular point in the Red Sea was a natural outcome of the strong east wind. What made it miraculous is that it happened just there, just then, when the Israelites seemed trapped, unable to go forward because of the sea, unable to turn back because the Egyptian army was pursuing them.

There is a significant difference between these two interpretations. The first appeals to our sense of wonder. How extraordinary that the laws of nature should be suspended to allow an escaping people to go free. It is a story to appeal to the imagination of a child.

But the naturalistic explanation is wondrous at another level entirely. Here the Torah is using the device of irony. What made the Egyptians of the time of Ramses so formidable was the fact that they possessed the latest and most powerful form of military technology: the horse-drawn chariot. It made them unbeatable and fearsome in battle.

What happens at the sea is poetic justice of the most exquisite kind. There is only one circumstance in which a group of people traveling by foot can escape a highly trained army of charioteers, namely when the route passes through a muddy seabed. The people can walk across, but the chariot wheels get stuck in the mud. The Egyptian army can neither advance nor retreat. The wind drops, and the water returns. The powerful are now powerless, while the powerless have made their way to freedom.

This second narrative has a moral depth that the first does not – and it resonates with the message of the book of Psalms: “His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love” (Psalms 147:10-11).

The elegantly simple way in which the division of the red sea is described in the Torah is such so that it can be read at two quite different levels – one as a supernatural miracle, the other as a moral tale about the limits of technology when it comes to the real strength of nations. That, to me, is what is most striking. It is a text quite deliberately written so that our understanding of it can deepen as we mature, and we are no longer so interested in the mechanics of miracles, but rather more interested in how freedom is won or lost.

So while it’s good to know how the division of the sea happened, there remains a depth to the biblical story that can never be exhausted by computer simulations and other historical or scientific evidence. It depends instead on being sensitive to its deliberate and delicate ambiguity. Just as ruach, a physical wind, can part waters and expose land beneath, so ruach, the human spirit, can expose, beneath the surface of a story, a deeper meaning beneath.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Rain In Biblical Art

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

One of the most iconic works of art I have ever seen is Japanese painter and printmaker Katsushika Hokusai’s c. 1831-1834 Cresting Wave Off the Coast of Kanagawa. The woodcut—which has held up remarkably well even as it has become an object of kitsch, plastered all over t-shirts, mugs, and posters—depicts an enormous wave (a tsunami perhaps) about to engulf a boat. The wave and foam are rendered in such a stylized manner that they resemble snow and icicles. And in the background, one can just make out the mountain.

Katsushika Hokusai. “Cresting Wave Off the Coast of Kanagawa,” or “The Great Wave,” from the series 36 Views of Mt. Fuji. Color Woodcut. C. 1831-1834.

A short essay on the website of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (under the banner, “Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History”), which refers to the print’s “sheer graphic beauty,” notes the unusual perspective, where the wave dwarfs the mountain. “Hokusai characteristically cast a traditional theme in a novel interpretation,” the timeline states. “In the traditional meisho-e (scene of a famous place), Mount Fuji was always the focus of the composition. Hokusai inventively inverted this formula and positioned a small Mount Fuji within the midst of a thundering seascape.”

Hokusai’s print often pops up in my mind around the holiday of Sukkot, when the prayer over rain (Tefilat Geshem) is recited at the end of the holiday. The prayer, which addresses the angel Af-Bri, who is appointed over the rainclouds, comes to a crescendo in the statements: “For a blessing and not for a curse! For life and not death! For plenty and not dearth!” Therein lies the dual nature of water. It is simultaneously the bearer of all life, and a force that can—and recently has—destroyed in unprecedented ways.

John Martin. “Noah Giving Thanks After the Flood.” Oil on canvas. C. 1840. Art Institute of Chicago.

Perhaps the greatest biblical example of the destructive power of water is from the original Flood. English painter John Martin’s Noah Giving Thanks After the Flood shows Noah’s sacrifice in front of a rainbow – the symbol that divine retribution would never again take the form of a flood – that emanates from the ark and calm waters. A waterfall, the symbol of the receding floodwaters, dominates the foreground, while in the background, receding storm clouds dissipate. Martin’s decision to juxtapose the stormy and calm waters underscores how quickly peaceful water can become a nightmare, and how, with Divine help, it can again become harmless.

The Schoken Bible, published in Germany in the 14th century, also juxtaposes good and bad waters. On the bottom of the frontpiece for the book of Genesis, depictions of the parting of the Red Sea and the drowning Egyptians appear on the end of a row of illustrations and the beginning of the next row respectively. As Moshe waves his staff at the Red Sea, two other men—stand-ins for the rest of the Israelites—follow behind him with their hands on his shoulders, hora style. In the next circular frame, the Jews have safely passed through the dry path in the ocean, and the waters have come crashing in on the Egyptians. The Egyptian soldiers drown in the ocean with their feet up in the air. The same waters which proved saviors to some were the undoing of others.

Crossing of the Red Sea. Rylands Haggadah, 14th century.

Menachem Wecker

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 4/15/11

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Dear Readers,

The Gemara declares the art of matchmaking to be as complex as krias Yam Suf – the splitting of the Red Sea. According to the interpretation of the Divrei Chaim (the Sanzer Rav zt”l), the word kasha (difficult) can be understood as hekesh (comparison or connection) — thereby the comparison of Hashem’s wonders at krias Yam Suf with His miracles in the pairing of zivugim.

The Divrei Yoel (the Satmar Rebbe zt”l) held that it is all in the timing. The sea received its divine instructions to split at a certain point in time, way back when the world was first created. Though to human perception the sea appeared to be reluctant to split, it actually waited for the right moment to dawn, and when that moment came the sea parted seamlessly. So it is with zivugim — when the right time comes, the seemingly difficult and impossible fall smoothly into place.

Below, one young reader shares her story of how she arrived at that sublime moment in her own life.

 

My Story

Part 1

Many of us girls have much in common, going through “rough” patches before finding the “one.” But even those trying times are all meant to be.

Here I was in my mid-twenties, self-confident and an independent thinker, and yet I lost myself for a while. For about a year and a half I found myself stuck on a certain fellow. I was a bundle of nerves for most of that time. Why? Why would anyone like me lose herself over a guy?

What was it about him? Why did I let him take over my life? I can think of a few reasons, but you might say, “What kind of reasons are those to let someone almost ruin your life?” Well, I thought that he was what I was looking for, so I just ran after it. He was charming, good-looking and kindhearted. He was also a number of years older than me and had been on the dating scene for quite some time.

We became acquainted by chance and were simply “friends” for a while. During that time, I had sympathy for the girls he dated because I knew that each was just another of his conquests. He would get bored with them or not feel attracted to them anymore, and dump them. I kind of felt bad for him, too, wondering if he would ever find true love.

He always seemed to have the upper hand in our relationship, and the ball seemed to always be in his court. It bothered me tremendously that it was I who needed to run after him. It was a game, and I disliked playing it intensely. The few times I would find the ball in my court were brief; he always managed to retrieve it by finding yet another girl to date.

I was a strong woman and never let my pain show. He always knew to tell me, “There’s nothing between us.” Oh, how it hurt! And, still, I kept falling back into his trap. Like all girls, I love being complimented, and he knew it…

Ironically, I had a few friends in similar situations and it was I who would talk them out of it, support them, and eventually they would get out of that bad relationship. It was I who would say, “If he isn’t running after you, it won’t work.” There are exceptions to the rule, of course. But, let me tell you something, girls: if you’re running after him and texting him after he didn’t answer you for two hours, GET OUT! It’s not worth making yourselves miserable. There will be another someone waiting for you, and he will love you without all the game-playing.

While I was on this up and down rollercoaster, a friend suggested that I see a certain rabbi who visits here from Israel from time to time and who is said to have helped countless people in different ways. I, for one, credit this special man with changing my life. That is not to say that seeking such input is for everyone. I will, however, say that if you just let G-d play out your life, everything will fall into place.

I remember Rabbi B. looking at me with sadness, though I can’t quite recall what he said to me back then. He did not mention the man I was driving myself crazy about, and I think it’s because he knew I’d have been unable to handle what he had to say. That’s how these intuitive people work. They only tell you what you are capable of dealing with. Amazingly, he told me things about me he could never have known, plus things I needed to work on. My life didn’t change right then and there, but the transformation had begun.

While I still kept up the rollercoaster ride with my male friend, I constantly prayed to G-d to help me get off it. When I received an e-mail letting me know that Rabbi B. would be in town again. I was elated! I knew I needed to see him; I needed more guidance.

Once again, there was this sadness in his eyes. He told me things I’d already heard from him before, and I asked him about my zivug (soul-mate). He said, “don’t worry; you’ll cover the pot on someone” (a metaphor for finding the right one). That was good to hear, but couldn’t he be more specific as to when that would be?

When the session was coming to a close, I was reluctant to go. Rabbi B., as usual, read my mind. “You want more?” He asked. Maybe I should have left when the going was good — it hurt to confront reality. “You like a boy…” he began. I burst into tears. We spoke a little about it, he gave me a bracha and I left.

 

The conclusion in next week’s issue…

* * * * *

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to  rachel@jewishpress.com  or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.

Rachel

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/chronicles-of-crises/chronicles-of-crises-in-our-communities-499/2011/04/13/

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