Thursday, January 31, 2008

(Not Just) Another Brick In The Wall
Parshat Mishpatim

By Sarah Sokolic
Verse Per Verse

Many of you who know me know that I have two beautiful healthy young sons and I could not be more thankful or feel more blessed to have them in my life. But long before they were born I had become pregnant. My name is Rachel Bat Shutelah – thank you for allowing me to share my story. I was a working in a brick factory in Egypt, and like all the other pregnant women I was forced to work all through my pregnancy with no accommodation for illness or discomfort.

I was working in the factory the day I went into labor and, because of the ruthlessness and inhumanity of the Egyptian rulers, I had no choice but to deliver my baby right there in the factory. With little fanfare his body slipped from me into the pit of the mortar and sand below. I had seen it happen to so many other women in the factory too. I knew that the fate of my baby was to become one of the millions of bricks of Pharaoh’s pyramids...but this thought has haunted me throughout my afterlife.

I’m here today because the Angels in heaven told me that it has become a tradition in your modern times to read the history books on a weekly basis, and that I should make a visit here to check those holy books to see what might have become of my baby.

In the beginning of my research I found that it says in Exodus 24:10 that when Moses, Aaron and his sons Nadav and Avihu and the 70 elders of Israel went up the mountain of Sinai they saw God, and:

וְתַחַת רַגְלָיו, כְּמַעֲשֵׂה לִבְנַת הַסַּפִּיר, וּכְעֶצֶם הַשָּׁמַיִם, לָטֹהַר.

…translated by the New Jewish Publication Society as:

“and there was under His feet the like of a paved work of sapphire stone, and the like of the very heaven for clearness.”

It gave me a clue but no real answers.

The King James translation of this verse explains it even more precisely:

“and they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.”

A body of heaven – could it be, I thought?

I looked at one more - the Pseudo Jonathan. It says here:

“and under the footstool of His feet which was placed beneath His throne, was like the work of sapphire stone a memorial of the servitude with which the Egyptians had made the children of Israel to serve in clay and bricks…a footstool under the cathedra of the Lord of the world whose splendor was as the work of a precious stone, and as the power of the beauty of the heavens when they are clear from the clouds.”

Even further explanation of this in what you call midrash says that at the exact same time I was giving birth on earth, God was taking a vote of the angels up in heaven to decide if it was fair to drown the Egyptians as punishment for the persecution of us Israelites. As the angels ardently debated, the archangel Michael descended from the heavens and carried the brick that held my baby in its center up to God to show an example of the atrocities that the Egyptians perpetrated onto us. God was so moved by this evidence that the judgment was made – the Egyptians would be punished. Now I now know that the fate of my first born baby was not to become a symbol of evil, rigidity and subordination. My son had a divine purpose.

With this knowledge I can go back to the heavens with peace in my mind and in my spirit. May all of us in our work and life be builders of community and upholders of tradition. In whatever work we do we are making bricks, setting the foundation, creating a magnificent footstool with which our children, our gems, will learn how to elevate every moment of life.

May we all continue to reach for the heavens and find the divine in ourselves and in everything we do.

1 comment:

  1. and may all the children thrive.. mazel tov...