Friday, January 25, 2013

Of Birthdays And Maids

The only thing faster than the speed of light is a girl untagging herself in a photo she was tagged in on facebook. Is it just me, or do you also stop breathing when you receive a notification, ¨___ has tagged a photo of you¨ ?

One of the advantages, as well as one of the disadvantages of living in the WWW era is that news spreads faster than it even happens.
Back in the days of the Jews in Egypt and the desert, spreading the word about something took at least a few days, maybe even weeks.
 But not this one event. The famous act of God´s splitting of the sea was an event that was so huge, and so miraculous, that somehow it was heard about all over the world.

Chazal said about it, ¨raata shifcha al hayam ma shelo raah Yechezkel ben Buzi¨ ¨A maidservant saw things that even Yechezkel ben Buzi (one of the greatest prophets) didn´t see¨
The tremendous miracle that took place on that shore, was the absolute greatest revelation of God´s name that has ever been experienced. Yet, after bearing witness to such holiness and greatness, chazal still refer to her as a maidservant? If she experienced greater spiritual activity that one of the world´s greatest prophets, wouldn´t we expect her to have graduated from the level of ´maidservant´?

That´s exactly the problem. She saw everything. The open miracles, the revelations, the omnipotence of God, and His ultimate power. And yet, she remained, same ol´ Maria the maid. It made no impression on her at all.

Everything that happens in our lives, whether big, medium, or small happenings, we experience them for one reason only: To learn from them. To grow. To change. Everything we go through is suppossed to make an impression on us and cause us to introspect and improve.
Everything. From a broken traffic light, to your mother in law, to a bloody nose. From finding a parking spot, to almost crashing into a tree, to reading something inspiring. They´re all there to teach us. To help us improve.
This shabbos is not only Shabbos shira, named for the kumzitz that took place when they crossed the sea, but it´s also Tu B´Shvat! The birthday, and judgement day, of the trees.

¨Ki Haadam etz hasadeh¨
Man is compared to a tree.
Why? Because it takes him forever to grow up.
Just kidding.
We're compared to trees because the growth process is the same.
4 steps to the growth of a tree:
1. External inspiration.
It needs the rain to get things started.
2. It internalizes the rain and begins to advance on its own.
3. The sap begins to rise. It feels a big change as it actually becomes a tree.
4. The leaves, flowers, and fruits blossom and bloom.
4 steps to the growth of man:
1. External inspiration.
We need to grab onto something that inspires us!
2. We MUST internalize the inspiration and take positive actions.
3. We feel an obvious change as we begin to grow in character and maturity.
4. We actually begin to blossom and bloom, and become the person we know we can be.
Maria did not take advantage of what had transpired around her. She did not see it as inspiration, and certainly didnt internalize it. Therefore, she was born a maid, and died a maid.
Let´s learn from the trees and grab at inspiration. We can be inspired by even the mundane. There´s so much to learn from even the regular things that happen throughout the day.

Now, I´m off to buy a birthday present. Gosh, it´s so hard to shop for trees.

Have a beautiful shabbos and a happy Tu B´Shvat!