Imagine yourself standing on a at Rosh Hanikra, a coastal region in the northern Israel where the sea meets the mountains. As you peer out over the Mediterranean Sea, the rhythmic waves crash into the rocks, each wave stronger and more intense than the last. This awe-inspiring sight, where the sheer power of nature meets tranquility, evokes feelings of humility and wonder. You can’t help but think: What force lies behind this magnificent spectacle?
In Psalm 93, verse 4, this very scenario is painted vividly and an answer to the question is provided: “Above the thunder of the mighty waters, more majestic than the breakers of the sea is Hashem, majestic on high.”
The sages have often related the imagery of water to God’s word. Water sustains us physically, and God’s word, the Torah, sustains us spiritually. When Isaiah beckons the thirsty to come for water (Isaiah 55:1), he’s not just referring to physical hydration, but a spiritual thirst that can be quenched only by the divine teachings of the Bible. And just as the roaring waves leave an undeniable imprint on one’s heart, so does the Torah itself.
Maimonides, a revered medieval Jewish scholar, presents two paths that bridge humanity and the Divine. The first path is the contemplation of God’s vast universe, His creation. By observing the intricacies and wonders of the world around us, from the vast cosmos to the tiny creatures that roam the Earth, we can’t help but be filled with love and awe for the Creator. The realization that amidst this immense universe, we, as humans, have a special place, fills us with an overwhelming sense of humility.
The second path is the study of God’s word. By studying and understanding His commandments and teachings, one draws closer to God’s wisdom. This path of contemplation not only complements the first but enhances it, offering a more profound connection to the Almighty. Together, these paths present a more comprehensive understanding of God; a combination of marveling at His creation and delving deep into His teachings.
Psalm 93 captures both of these ideas. While verse 4 marvels at nature’s grandeur – the mighty waters and breaking waves – verse 5 turns our focus towards God’s testimonies and His eternal abode. One interpretation of this psalm suggests that it was sung by the sailors who brought the mighty cedar trees from Lebanon to build the House of God in Jerusalem (II Chronicles 2:15). Each crashing wave they encountered on their voyage was a testament to God’s majesty. And their very mission, to contribute to the establishment of God’s Temple, embodied their deep connection and love for the Creator.
Our journey to understanding and loving God is twofold. While we stand humbled by the world’s wonders around us, we are also beckoned to look deeper, and to immerse ourselves in the teachings of God’s words. So, the next time you stand by the sea, hear the crash of the waves or delve into a verse from the Bible, remember: Are these not all whispers of the same divine voice, beckoning us to draw closer?