Two interesting questions.
I have always loved this picture and I have had it on my computer screen for a few years. But I only learned two fascinating truths it reflects this past week.
Artwork by Israeli artist Baruch Nachshon (z”l)
1. The Hebrew word at the top is Anochi – אנכי The first word G-d spoke at Mount Sinai when He spoke the Ten Commandments. It means I AM [the Lord your G-d] (Exodus 20:2). David Nekrutman in his recently published book ‘Your Sabbath Invitation,’ explains that this form is unusual as in Hebrew the word ‘I’ is ‘Ani.’ So, why would G-d use it here? It turns out that Anochi is an acronym for the Aramaic – Ani Nafshi K’tavti Y’havit, meaning: “I wrote down My very Soul and gave it to you!”
“By using Anochi, G-d wanted the Jewish nation to know it was going to receive the real operating system of the world – His Word – the Torah, and they would simultaneously connect to G-d in a more profound way than ever before.
A God-Soul moment is the revelation we receive when we engage the text of Torah and plumb it’s depths! Our soul connects with His Soul..”
As we know, at Passover the Israelite slaves were set free by passing through the Reed Sea, then, at Shavuot we received the revelation of G-d’s Presence and His gift of Torah.
A friend commented that although the revelation at Sinai was a spectacular, awe inspiring event – accompanied by thunder, lightning, shaking, and the shattering sound of the mighty, heavenly Shofar, the commandments themselves presented by Moshe on the tablets, seemed quite simple and straightforward. They were basically common sense. For example, not to steal or to murder.
Then… in Jill Hammer’s ‘Book of Days’ I came across her comparison of the Torah to the sea! She quotes a midrash, Song of Songs Rabbah 5:20, “As in between each large wave in the sea there are small waves, so between each wave of the commandments [and every word of Torah itself] are all its details and interpretations.”
So, thinking of the beauty, variety, mystery and depths of the ocean, we realize that each word, and even each letter and the spaces around them, has ripples of smaller, more detailed and nuanced ideas and meanings. Like the hidden treasures below the surface of the sea, we remember how many of its truths and meanings have yet to be discovered. It’s a never-ending wondrous exploration!