The Kosher Bookworm The Titanic: A Spiritual Response


In a recent sidebar to a most informative essay by Rabbi Yechiel Goldhaber in Hamodia, April 18, 2012, concerning the sinking of the Titanic, the following perceptive observation was made:

“The Titanic sank deep into the ocean, not to be located for some eighty years. More important, it sank deeply into the conscience of the Jewish nation. It inspired hundreds of drashot about the frailty and uncertainty of life in this world, and about the false sense of mastery over man’s fate due to the rapid advances in technology the world was experiencing.”

The question as to the relationship of humankind to the sea has always been a factor to be considered in history down through the ages by sages and plain folk alike. Recently an anthology of essays dealing with the Jewish festival life cycle was published. Entitled, “Change and Renewal” {Koren / Maggid Books, 2011] by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, this perplexing relationship is dealt with in a series of theological responses.

In the chapter entitled “The Splitting of the Red Sea,” Rabbi Steinsaltz goes into deep thought and detail in considering this relationship of sea to human and attempts to give this a spiritual as well as a mystical footing.

Consider the following samplings from this work:

“The concepts ‘sea’ and ‘dry land’ represent the two general states of existence. In the Zohar, the sea is called the ‘concealed world,’ whereas dry land is called the ‘revealed world.’ Dry land represents the reality that is above the surface, visible to the eye; life exists on the face of the earth. By contrast, the sea represents reality that conceals what takes place inside it. The sea is the great mystery; things do not happen on its surface but within it.”

Further on Rabbi Steinsaltz makes the following intriguing observation:

“People generally act like creatures of dry land, and their consciousness deals with the visible world. The higher, exalted elements of man – all that transcends plain and ordinary consciousness – are represented by the sea. These are the concealed worlds in man. As a rule, we see only the lower end of the exalted things, the ‘tip of the iceberg’ protruding above the surface.

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