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Why We Loved the Waterfalls

Why We Loved the Waterfalls

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Climbing steep steps and hiking over bridges, we couldn’t get enough of the scene: stunning waterfalls nestled deep in the wooded mountains. Streams of crystal-clear water majestically dropped over huge cliffs and pooled into creeks surrounded by trees, wildflower and boulders.

At the very end of the summer, my husband and I took our children to a family get-away in the Pocono Mountains and discovered the gorgeous Bushkill Falls. Utterly captivated, we spent hours hiking, climbing, wading in the water and snapping a million pictures.

What is it about a waterfall that is so enchanting? After all, it’s just water doing what it naturally does, flowing from a higher place down to a lower one. And yet, each of those eight fabulous waterfalls nestled in the mountains took our breath away.

But perhaps something deep in our subconscious stirs as we watch those enthralling falls and are reminded about our own origins. Just as the water descends from high, our soul, too, originated in the high spiritual worlds and descended to our “lowly” material world. And just as the water’s fall creates such beauty, our soul’s descent into this world, too, can create enormous beauty.

The gorgeous waterfalls of that day, late in August, remind me of the upcoming holiday of Sukkot, the holiday of rejoicing, when water held a central role.

One of Sukkot’s most joyous observances was Simchat Beit Hashoeivah, the “Celebration of the Water-Drawing.” The Levites and priests would draw water from the Shiloach stream, and it was poured over the altar in a special ceremony. Arriving at the Temple, they were accompanied by joyous trumpet blasts. The nights of Sukkot were spent celebrating with music, dancing and singing.

So great was the joy that our sages inform us: “He who has not seen the rejoicing of the water-drawing ceremonies has never in his life seen joy.”(Sukkah, Ch. 5) Throughout the night, men danced holding torches, scholars juggled, and Levites played music while everyone excitedly watched. Nowadays, even without the Temple, we hold celebrations on these nights.

The Chassidic masters explain the significance of the water celebration. Torah is compared to water, and is G‑d’s wisdom descending and enclothing itself in physical terms and commandments. Like water, which is essential for life, Torah is vital for our well-being. And yet, just as water is tasteless and we can flavor it or spice it with our own ingredients, the unique manner in which we observe the Torah reflects our own special individualized personalities. Our connection to G‑d, so deep and so true, defies any specific flavor.

Thinking back to Bushkill Falls, perhaps the water reminded us that our soul’s “fall” from its lofty origins into our world creates mesmerizing beauty.

Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.
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Sheila Michigan October 14, 2016

How refreshing are your words ! Yes! I celebrate the W-ord daily as it is His W-ord that refreshes and cleanses my soul ! It is His W-ord that is my refuge ! It is His W-ord that is my light and my salvation ! May the W-ord of G-d be forever praised and celebrated continuously throughout the year and eternity! Reply

jim dallas October 13, 2016

nature 'r us fond of the best side of nature and be glad when the bad side succumbes to the truth. Reply

Marlene Lewis Montreal October 13, 2016

Thank you for such a beautiful article. I always look forward to reading your work. Happy Succos to you and yours, may we watch the dancing and singing and all celebrate together as one!!!! Reply

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