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Welcome to Planet Earth

by Mrs. Rochel Yaffe

  

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The infant draws its first breath and emits a weak cry.  The umbilical cord is cut, severing the newborn from its mother, and a living, breathing, autonomous child enters the world.  Every step of an embryo’s development is shrouded in mystery and beset by paradox.  Each stage is nothing less than miraculous-beginning with the tiny drop that holds every facet of a human being, continuing through the growth inside the womb, and culminating with the transformation at birth from an organ of its mother into a person with a life of its own.

All of us who have been blessed with children have experienced that moment of awe and wonder–when the pain of labor is forgotten with the overwhelming recognition that we have just witnessed a miracle. "Had we not seen it (a child's birth) with our own eyes," writes Maimonides, "and someone had just told us about it, we would have denied it." (Moreh Nevuchim, Part II, Chap. 17) According to the Kabbalah, there is a parallel between the birth of a child and another great mystery. The child in the womb resembles the world in the state of Galuth (Exile). And the moment of birth is like that of deliverance.

Mankind has eyes but does not see the inherent spirituality in this world. We have ears but pay no heed to the voice of the soul.
The unborn child lies curled in the darkness of the womb, its head resting between its knees.  It possesses all its organs, but does not have the use of its senses.  The eyes cannot see; the ears cannot hear; the breath of life will not enter its lungs until the moment of birth. Thus the child remains powerless, unable to emerge into the light and
fulfill its potential.

While some associate the warmth of the womb with comfort and security, the Kabbalah views it as a place of confinement.  The darkness of the womb symbolizes the spiritual darkness of our Exile when G-d's presence is concealed in the world and we, His creation, may seem separate from Him.  In fact, the Hebrew term for the world, olam, comes from the same root as the word helem, or concealment.

Like the unborn child, the world is only half-alive in exile.  Mankind has eyes but does not see the inherent spirituality in this world; we have ears but pay no heed to the voice of the soul; we have lungs but not the breath, the spirit of life, that gives vitality to the heart and mind.  Our physical desires and love of material things obscure the light of the soul and the intellect. This bleak picture is, of course, incomplete. 

Let us return for a moment to the embryo.  True, it is a limited creature and a long way from achieving its potential as a complete human being.  But there is no other period in a person’s life as crucial to future development as those months in the womb; the slightest variation in environment can do great harm or untold good.

Galuth then, like pregnancy, has a meaningful purpose. At a time when the world is in spiritual exile-beset by pain and suffering-even a single good deed shines forth with great brilliance, for light is infinitely more precious when it comes forth from darkness.

And just when the pain of labor becomes unbearable, the child is born.  All obstacles melt away-and all suffering is transformed into joy.


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Thank you for the insight

Posted by: Elizabeth Morey, Madison, WI on Jun 12, 2005

I have long grappled with what is seemingly a blase attiduted towards the most important elements of our lives.

Thank you for bringing a deep insight and oft overlooked angle to this most important of topics.

Lizzy

RELATED CATEGORIES

Philosophy » Messiah
Intimacy » Reproductive Issues
Life Cycle » Birth » Reproductive Issues

Maimonides
Moses son of Maimon, born in Spain in 1135, died in Egypt in 1204. Noted philosopher and authority on Jewish law. Also was an accomplished physician and was the personal doctor for members of the Egyptian royalty. Interred in Tiberius, Israel.
Kabbalah
Jewish mysticism. The word Kaballah means "reception," for we cannot physically perceive the Divine, we merely study the mystical truths which were transmitted to us by G-d Himself through His righteous servants.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.