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And They Lived Happily Ever After . . .

And They Lived Happily Ever After . . .

What About the Next Day?

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The crossing of the Red Sea was the ultimate “high” for the Jewish nation. So epic was the revelation of G‑d at the splitting of the sea that each Jew could point to the Almighty with his or her finger and state: “This is my G‑d.” The sages say that even the common folk, the maidservants, witnessed a mystical vision greater than anything witnessed by the prophet Ezekiel.

This revelation is incomparable to anything we know

This revelation is incomparable to anything we know, but perhaps we can sense a tiny glimmer of such a reality during a “peak experience.” Psychologist Abraham Maslow described peak experiences as moments during which we feel the maximum levels of happiness, harmony and possibility. These experiences can range from the deepening of everyday pleasure to “supernatural” occurrences of enhanced consciousness. Climbing Mount Everest, giving birth, producing a great creative work, one’s wedding day—these have been described as peak experiences in an individual’s life.

These momentous events would all pale in comparison to the splitting of the Red Sea, the ultimate peak experience. And yet the commentators tell us that the maidservants, after experiencing this open miracle, remained maidservants. What do they mean, and why is it important for us to understand this point?

The sages point out that following their peak experience—their “high”—the maidservants reverted back to their prior selves. Instead of taking advantage of the awe-inspiring revelations during the splitting of the sea, the maidservants squandered an opportunity for accelerated growth, insight and union with their Source. The prophet Ezekiel, on the other hand, may have bore witness to a more understated degree of Divine revelation, but he utilized his spiritual opportunity to create a higher connection to G‑d.

Interestingly enough, the Talmud says that “to match couples together is as difficult as the splitting of the sea.”1

Why the comparison?

First off, according to Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, whenever our sages refer to paradox—the unification of opposites—they refer to it as being as difficult as the parting of the Red Sea. Just as we were paradoxically able to walk on “a dry sea,” in marriage we are paradoxically asked to live with someone who seems to be from another planet!2

Perhaps another reason for the comparison between the splitting of the sea and marriage is that they both have miraculous origins. The wedding is the beginning of this Divine miracle. In front of G‑d, and those you love, you enter a holy union with anticipation and hope. Starting a new life together, your world is your tabula rasa, your blank slate. Your heightened senses bring the awe and love you feel for one another into undeniable view. You want to give. You want to be the best possible partner. You are at the apex of a peak experience; you are in the middle of a genuine high. This is a moment that can be a catalyst for great personal and spiritual growth. It is not only about you anymore; you have another. There is the potential for great transformation.

Remember the maidservants? After their great awakening, they returned to their earlier ways.

When the wedding is over, and the intense bliss dissipates, will you remember the compassion, kindness and commitment that you felt during your great awakening? When you settle down—and life becomes more routine, and the responsibilities begin to pile up—will you remember to be as receptive, forgiving and unselfish as you were on your special day? And as the years go by and the inevitable challenges emerge, will you still cultivate the closeness you felt with your spouse during your peak experience?

How fortunate are we that, at some point in our lives, we may be given the gift of an elevated awareness—a peak experience. During those times, it is important to take positive action to ensure that what we gleaned during those moments will not remain just a vague feeling.Will you still cultivate the closeness? We have to step up during the “highs” and internalize their messages. When we are moved by a piece of music, when we arrive at meditative bliss, when our babies are born, when it is our turn under the chupah, let us not remain the maidservants that we were before. Let us transform.

Footnotes
1.
Sotah 2a.
2.
Steinsaltz, Adin. Change and Renewal: The Essence of the Jewish Holidays, Festivals and Days of Remembrance. Maggid, 2011.
Karen Wolfers-Rapaport is a psychotherapist specializing in Narrative Therapy. She holds a BA from UCLA, and an MA in Counseling Psychology from Boston College. She received her training from Tufts University. In addition to her therapeutic work and freelance writing, Karen works with families from Israel’s Prime Minister’s office and Ministry of Defense, teaching them English in preparation for their diplomatic posts abroad. A proud mother, she is blessed to live in Israel.
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many Chabad.org pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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jenny shain RBS April 20, 2017

Excellent Karen, hard to actualise, but possible with Hashem's help. Reply

Daniela Zack April 29, 2016

What a wonderfull description of being a couple and live together in G's rules. Im a wife for 26 years now and I must say: marriage means work, with myselve and with my husband. Everyday. And for our love. Reply

Lamont Myers Hallendale Fl. April 28, 2016

Splitting the Red Sea This is very dynamic, but worth it. When we agreed to obey God's commandments, we accepted a responsibility. Live in a Godly life and environment. And in turn Hashem will reward us. Marriage is one of those commandments in which we are able to please Hashem greatly. It gives us an opportunity to control our selves and bring joy to Heaven. Abiding in the laws of marriage brings about the presence of God. For God is holy, as is two abiding in the laws of marriage. We have 613 ways of bringing God's presence in this world. Once we accept to obey Him. Love, joy, faith, purpose, dignity. Just a few of the rewards. Love, Lamont. Reply

Anonymous Argentine April 27, 2016

I try to write in eNglish, but I have many mistake----Really this is perfect I in every time I have this in my mind I feel thhat--PESAJ SAMEAJ Reply

Anindya Indonesia July 7, 2015

Trying to go farther, to match couples together is as easy as the splitting of the sea, living together with peaks and valleys, with G-d there, as long as we invite Him. Praise G-d, today, is my 8th wedding anniversary, with -yes- the man from another planet. Reply

Raymond Bastarache NB. Canada April 7, 2015

transformation............yes The miracle is....... the two become one....G-d has these qualities both male and female characteristic in Himself. One is like an angel..... two ... (husband and wife) is the very content and image of G-d . Notice how husband and wife look alike after many years together? Reply

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