Torah insists on it.
How? By relating everything to the Exodus. Even the apocalypse!
What is the Apocalypse?
Apocalypse means “revelation.”
Our prophets share visions of hope revealed to them. One day, they predict, the world will change profoundly for the better. Then, we will all see as they do.
On that day, says the prophet Zechariah, God will stand right on top of the Mount of Olives. Beneath the weight of God’s legs, the mountain will split in two, along its east-west axis. Half the mountain will move north, and half will move south. Through the new gorge that opens, living waters will flow from Jerusalem in two directions at once, to the Mediterranean Sea and yes, the Dead Sea.
What a powerful metaphor! A world cracks open and new possibilities flow.
What a familiar metaphor! Day after day, we live with limited awareness. Facts hide from us. We don’t understand other people. Our own motivations confuse us. But occasionally, in times of great euphoria or in times of stress, our inner knots and complexes break open. Fresh streams of awareness flow. Our hope for insight, freedom and change is fulfilled.
At extraordinary times, awareness can sweep through a community or a nation, too. Mountains can move, waters can change direction, justice can flow. Change can begin with a trickle. With a stream of water as thin as the antennae of a grasshopper. So our sages say (Yoma 77b).
Or, change can begin with great drama. As it did when the Israelites escaped slavery. When the mountains danced and the sea fled. “What’s up with you, ocean, that you run away? You mountains, that you dance like rams?” (Psalm 114).
Do you sing Psalm 114? Or believe the sea split during the Exodus? Maybe you are not a literalist. But you still proclaim, each year at Passover: the Exodus happened! Something like it is happening now! And will happen in the future!
If you sing, believe, or proclaim, Torah’s teaching is clear. You are commanded to have faith in the future.
Photo: Near Hope, BC: Clearing Hell’s Gate passage through the Fraser River, after an avalanche blocked the salmon’s path.
I prepared this short teaching for the OHALAH: Association of Clergy for Jewish Renewal Conference on the theme “Bayom Hahu: Judaism in an Uncertain World.” Delivered January 10, 2018.