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What I Did on My Summer Vacation

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Or, The Kabbalah of Boating


Call me Boruch.

Some months ago, I spent a week with my family in a watery part of the world--Cape Cod, MA, to be exact. The sea, the sun, the salty air, drove off my spleen and put a summer shine into the November in my soul--at least until the return to New Jersey.

The trip also made me wonder why I love boats.

The Kabbalah behind the story of Noah's ark provides an answer.

Our world is described as coming into being as "something from nothing." This is an extremely odd expression. Doesn't the world come from G‑d? Yet we say it's "something from nothing." What's G‑d, chopped liver?

Actually there are two perspectives on our world. In one, called the Lower Perspective (Daat Tachton), we see a world full of "stuff"--trees, printers, bowls of split pea soup, etc. This stuff--the material realm--has immediate reality to us. We call it "something."

The spiritual realms, on the other hand, we call "nothing." Not because we don't think they're there, but because they're hidden from us. Less real. Consider, for example, how much life goes by without spiritual content, as though the deeper dimension doesn't mean anything.

The second perspective, however, says the opposite: The true reality is spiritual reality. That's where you find the depth of life, expanded consciousness, absolute concepts and the never-ending beauty of inner soul. That's where you find G‑d. That's the "something." Relative to this Higher Perspective (Daat Elyon), the material world is an insignificant "nothing." (From this perspective, we'd say that the world is "nothing from something"!)

Here's where the boat comes in. Kabbalah calls the Lower Perspective the perspective of Dry Land: When we gaze upon it, we see only a surface reality, where things stick out, make noise, get in our face. But the Higher Perspective is called the perspective of the Sea: When we gaze upon it, we see something deep--a single, silent, powerful, unifying Oneness, blanketing all else within its Presence.

Accordingly, the lofty souls of the masters of Jewish mysticism are called the Fish of the Sea, swimming in the Ocean of Higher Reality, never leaving the deep spirituality of their Source; whereas the rest us are called Animals of the Land, roaming the surface of existence, negotiating the "stuff." To this I say, Moo.

For the "Fish Souls" to bring the "Land Souls" on a tour of their territory requires a boat. The Land Creature then gains a glimpse of the Fish's Higher Perspective--gets a sense of the great depth of his world.

The word for "ark" in Hebrew is teivah, which also means "word." Thus Noah's ark represents the words and teachings of Jewish spiritual enlightenment. Enter the ark of Kabbalah and sail the Sea of Higher Consciousness. Gaze into the depth of a powerful Oneness.

With the vehicle of Kabbalah, Noah brought the world to a Higher Place. That's why I like boats. Ship ahoy!

Illustration by Chassidic artist Michoel Muchnik; click here to view or purchase Mr. Muchnik's art.
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Rabbi Boruch Cohen Birmingham, MI April 17, 2012

For Mike Hi Mike,
Thank you for your comment. Try searching for articles on this website about the splitting of the Red Sea.
The source texts here, to my knowledge, are not available in English.
Happy 'sailing'! Reply

Mike Drumm Concord, CA April 12, 2012

Ocean of Higher Reality The souls of the masters are called the "Fish of the Sea," swimming in the Ocean of Higher Reality... that's where you find the depth of life, expanded consciousness, absolute concepts and the never-ending beauty of inner soul

An interesting set of words, but I'm wondering what this has to do with the "inner Voice of God", or Kabbalah in general. Is it possible for you to give a reference in Kabbalistic literature for the above set of concepts.


Milena Bour Bucharest, Romania April 27, 2009

becoming a fish in the sea Several years ago,while trying to understand the beautiful but so evanescent insights that were revealed to me and being quite hurt by my lack of capability to keep them into my mind-suddenly an answer came,as another insight or rather as a metaphor ,an image expressed in this words:"IF YOU WANT TO KEEP THOSE TRUTHS WHICH SEEM TO YOU LIKE COLOURFUL FISHES JUMPING OUT OF THE WAVES -YOU HAVE TO BECOME A FISH YOURSELF,LIVING AMONG THEM...!" Somehow I understood the invitation but didn't have any clue about how to make that happen.Ten months ago I started a course about KABBALAH in which I advance very hardly,so slowly that sometimes I have the impression that I am still in the beginning point ,maybe more confused and frustrated about my blunt intellect...And now,I found,by chance,your story;there aren't enough characters left to express what I feel,but THANK YOU, little fish! Reply

peter wanjohi nairobi, kenya November 23, 2005

Kabbalistic boat Your elucidation amazed me by its simplicity and truth.
The souls in Gan Eden including those of cabbalists are in eternal infinite sea.
The physical universe is the markebah cruising inside this sea. Few of the travellers are aware of this reality. They are the chosen few... Reply

Joseph Vernon, Ct November 2, 2005

Boats Yes, yes, perhaps even a "glass bottomed" boat. One that seems suspended right in the middle. Showing those that there is light both below and above...even all around. Reply

Millard Gulledge Portland, Oregon usa November 1, 2005

Waterfish All those who desire can become "fish" in the sea of Torah or Talmud. It requires us to change our nature and become willing to start swimming in the sea instead of walking along the shore. Little by little immerse your self in the waters. Reply