Antonio Stradivarius, wandering in Venice one day, came upon a pile of broken, waterlogged oars, out of which he made some of his most beautiful violins.
“I do not seek, I find,” was Picasso’s famous dictum.
A lucky find gave Picasso one of his most famous sculptural creations: Guess how I made that head of a bull. One day, in a rubbish heap, I found an old bicycle seat, lying beside a rusted handlebar and my mind instantly linked them together. The idea for this Tete de Taureau came to me before I even realized it. I just soldered them together. (Picasso 157)
While Stradivarius and Picasso celebrated the hermaion – “a gift of Hermes, whose gifts entail both finding and losing, I celebrate a different sort of finding in this week’s portion.
I find it difficult to get the idea of the similarity between Motzi – to take out, as in “take out of Egypt, and Motzei – to find. Perhaps, I too, am simply soldering them together, but am convinced that the portion – Vaeira – and I appeared – is not only about God appearing to the Egyptians, but also about Moshe appearing to himself and all the Children of Israel finding themselves; something they must do before they can leave.
The plagues described in this week’s portion do not directly address Israel at all. It seems as if they were not asked to do anything, even think or reflect, and yet, what happened to them as they observed Moshe striking their masters on God’s behalf, and the fact that they were perfectly safe? What were they thinking? How did they feel?
Did Moshe change from the man who argued, “Who am I to go to Pharaoh,” to a more confident leader? Did he find new parts of himself?
As Moshe found himself, and as the Children of Israel found themselves, the process of Yetzia – leaving – began with the finding.
I want to explore the inner process of the Jews in this week’s portion with the few hints we are given.
Please join me.
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