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The Calm after the Storm
Rav Yair Dreyfus • 2017
While there is a chaos in religion and humanity, I sense the beginning of a development of new and old personas. These know how to peek without nurturing their eyes.
I describe this time as “The Calm after the Storm”:
The Tosefta has a colorful description of the tension between snow and fire to describe the desire to see the vision of Yechezkel’s chariot (Merkava), the anomaly to transcend the familiar. The people who delve into the depths of the secrets describe R’ Akiva as one who could walk between the snow and fire; he could enter the mystical orchard [Pardes] and leave it in peace. He gave us the ability to not to be sun blinded. [You can get blinded from both fire and snow] - sandblindness that comes from a vision lacking mature intelligence in a world of a colors chaos - to peek without seeing directly with the eyes.
R’ Akiva entered and left the orchard peacefully. We equate this to the passuk “…Draw me to you, afterwards we shall run…” (Shir HaShirim 1:4). What is this compared to? To a king who built a second floor on top of an orchard. What is the point? To peek without seeing directly with the eyes.
Another comparison - to a middle road that is located between two paths, one of fire and the other of snow. Turn this way and you’ll be burned by the fire; turn the other way and get burned by the snow. What is a person supposed to do? To walk in the middle so you do not get burned by either [Tosefta Chagiga 2:4]. The space between the fire and the snow is echoed in modern life with the doomed attempt to deal with the phenomenon of Chromaphobia (the fear of colors) - to fear the colorful world, the multiplicity of options, the chaotic opportunities, along with an addiction to fashionable trends and the urban distancing of one’s self from earth, faith and authenticity.
Do we have a place in this world for tradition, loyalty, sincerity, and morality?
How is one supposed to traverse the path between the snow tundra – the culture of “cool”, where all is devoid of emotion, of enchantment moments, and of wonderful dreams – and between the fire - the lust for New Age vitality?
The middle path during this era is a miraculous vision, from the mystery of inner being, intelligence that comes from a palace (היכל) of new understandings that descends in our generation to the masses who know how to confidently walk balanced while looking at the chaotic world without nurturing themselves with their eyes.
The anchor upon which I rest is the essential point of the covenant, a space that is not dependent on the teeth of the cog of culture change. It is grasped in the space of fanaticism to the point of the covenant, grace and oath; adhering to purity – to kedusha – and faithfulness without compromising on any nuance of halacha and minhag.
This approach opens wide horizons for me, even if not infinite. An ability to include and to widen my faith to places that were previously blocked to me.
Within the chaos of the world where everything is legitimate, there is a half-concealed wave of young men and women, and people even older that are seeking, yearning, and listening to things that come directly from the heart. In many ways while there is a chaos in religion and humanity, I sense the beginning of a development of new and old personas. These know how to peek without nurturing their eyes.
Where will this pleasant group end up? Which world of faith and Torah will dwell in them? How will they look like in ten years? I have no idea – “don’t investigate things concealed from you” (Chagiga 13a).
Rav Nachman asked how it was possible that the generations of Rashbi and the Ari z”l, who were so great, were unable to see what we [in Rav Nachman’s generation] can, the spiritual lights that we see? How is it that our generation [Rav Nachman’s], which is a generation of the weak, the old and women, are able to achieve these great spiritual lights? He answered with an example of a fortified wall that was being attacked with iron weapons trying to knock it down. However, they only succeeded in creating small cracks. Afterwards women and children came and were able to knock down the wall.
And the allegory is understood for those who understand.