I recently shared the following midrash with our religious school community:
When Hebrew slaves, Reuven and Shimon crossed the Sea of Reeds, they experienced a miracle of wonder and awe. They were walking towards freedom, a pathway entrenched between two walls of roaring water. However, all Reuven and Shimon noticed…was the mud. They looked downward, frustrated by the mud on their shoes. The two men cried out, wondering why they had left mud in Egypt only to find mud still encased around their legs. Human beings experiencing one of the greatest miracles of all time and yet, their vision was blurred by caked dirt, causing their eyes to focus on the ground. Focused on angst. Focused on what they left behind.
I asked the religious school where Reuven and Shimon should have looked. One student shouted, “Look up!” A parent offered, “Look forward!” In the moment, I realized they are both correct. If Reuven and Shimon looked up and looked forward, they would have witnessed the grandeur of our Creator and their ability to walk towards a better tomorrow.
This week, I took a few minutes to stroll around the neighborhood. Reuven and Shimon’s story was whirling through my mind. Instead of remaining glued to the emails on my phone, I took a deep breath in and looked up. A blooming, violet jacaranda tree stood overhead, majestic in beauty and scent. Smiling, I looked forward. I saw Sinai Temple and listened to the laughter of kindergarteners playing at lunchtime. The sounds of Jewish children infusing their lives with Torah, mitzvot, good deeds, and sacred connections. My day was renewed with awe and purpose.
Our minds have been trained to look down. Down towards the computer. Down towards the messiness of the day. Down towards the to-do-lists and complaints. But let us not be bogged down, tricked by the mud.
Look up. Look forward. Goodness awaits.
In partnership with The Jewish Journal, you can also find Rabbi Guzik’s blog post HERE.