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The Power of Inanimate Objects

Topic: Kabbalistic Concepts | Posted:January 6, 2016

In the portion Va’era, Aaron creates the miracle of the first plague, the Plague of Blood, because the Creator tells Moses to instruct Aaron to take his stick and hit the Nile River. But the Midrash asks why it was Aaron and not Moses who did this.

Rashi explains the answer, which is that when the mother of Moses placed him as a baby in a basket on the Nile River, the river protected him; therefore, Moses owed a debt of gratitude to the Nile River and, as such, could not be the one to hit it. So when it came time to turn the waters into blood and make the frogs come out of the river, it was Aaron who had to strike the water, not Moses.

We may read this and think, “What feelings can the Nile River possibly have? Is it really going to hurt the Nile River’s feelings if Moses hits it?” But the truth is that a very important awareness is being revealed to us here, awareness that we can also see at work every Shabbat; one of the reasons we cover the challah, for instance, is so as not to “embarrass” the challah. It is possible to recite Kiddush over either the challah or the wine, so if we choose to say the Kiddush on the wine, we cover the challah so as not to embarrass it by our decision.

The awareness of Moses with regards to the Nile River therefore awakens within us the understanding that there is consciousness in everything in our world. All objects—animate and inanimate—are interconnected through a network of energy and Light. It was not only the waters of the Nile that saved Moses when he was floating downriver as a baby; it was also the energy and Light within the Nile River that saved him.

There are four levels of life—inanimate, vegetable, animal, and human. And everything in our world is alive, even a table. It is essential for us to develop an awareness of the constant interaction between ourselves and everything around us, and to understand that this interaction is necessary to complete our tikun. For instance, we need the energy of food to know that we respect it so that the food can give us respect back. If a person shows lack of respect to a piece of bread by throwing it away, what he or she has effectively declared is, “I do not respect the energy within this food.” And the consequence of this lack of respect is that wherever this person goes, the energy in the bread will neither provide him with the necessary nutrition nor will it satiate him.

Further, the Zohar says even the walls of a person’s home have the power to speak. If a person commits negative actions in a room, not only can the energy of the room now tell the Creator what has happened, but the room can also inform other inanimate objects about what this person has done, and in the future, when this person needs protection from other walls, floors, or doors, they can choose whether or not to protect him based on what they have heard about him. When we walk into an important meeting, for example, the very floor we walk upon contains sparks of Light that can choose to help us in our work or not. When we sit in a room and study, the energy in the walls of the room can choose to help us connect to the Light of the Creator or not. We need the assistance of everything, including inanimate things. And, the Zohar says that just as our walls think about us, so also do our clothes and all other things. These inanimate objects can sustain us, so we should not do them any harm.

Throughout his life, Moses was constantly interacting with inanimate objects and needed assistance from objects such as water, rocks, and staffs. Most of us, however, are not even aware of how necessary inanimate objects are for our own spiritual development and growth. For example, Rav Berg used to make the point that when we prepare the twelve loaves of breadsat the Shabbat meal and choose a loaf for the right-hand side, which is the loaf we cut and eat after the blessing, and put an even nicer loaf on the left-hand side, it is always important not to switch these two loaves. Why? Because now the challah on the right-hand side has the consciousness that it is going to be used for the HaMotzi, the blessing over the bread, and to change this designation would “embarrass” it. I know this may sound silly, but we need that challah to give us its energy on Shabbat, and if we switch the challah, we will get less Light from that important connection.

The entire realm of inanimate objects is in constant communication with itself as well as all living things. Therefore, it is tremendously important that there never be a time when we disrespect anything in the inanimate world. We need the assistance of this kingdom in order to achieve the Gemar HaTikun, the End of the Correction.

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