Metaphors Be with You, Cleft of the Rock

There are many approaches to Torah study. My favorites are Remez - finding hints to meaning and Sod (samech daled in Hebrew, pronounced Sohd) - when the text becomes a portal of expanded, seemingly mystical, awareness.

Biblical Metaphors were my first retreat teaching topic topic. The hint in the stories of Moses sitting upon, speaking to and hitting "The Rock" is that when the Hebrew words tzur [rock], ehven [stone], selah [rock formation], or matzeivah [stone monument] appear, they are metaphors for God, points of God experience and connection. Our relationship to God is revealed in how the Biblical characters relate to things Rock/Stone in the story. Our sages knew this:

The school of Rabbi Ishmael taught: "My [God's] word is like a fire...and like a hammer shattering rock." [Jer. 23:29] As a hammer creates innumerable sparks, so does a single text yield many meanings." Midrash Sanhedrin 34a

On the mystical level, the Hebrew word for stone, ehven is made of aleph bet nun. Aleph bet, av, means father/parent and bet nun, ben, means son or sibling. The very word ehven reflects how The Zohar describes the human soul:

Zohar: [the sages] compared a [hu]man's soul to a rock carved off a mountain. There is no difference between the rock and the mountain, except that "God" is a whole and the rock is a "part." So we must ask, a stone carved from a mountain is separated from it by an ax made for that purpose, causing separation of the 'part' from the 'whole.' But how can you picture that about God? That God will separate a part from Its essence [meaning a soul] to the point it can only be understood as part of Its essence?"

The relationship of Moses to The Rock, his time of being Divinely enwombed and when he receives Torah "in the cleft of The Rock" (from which he has chiseled the stones upon which Moses will bring people a letter written by the finger of God), is frequently discussed in rabbinic literature.  Particularly relevant is Exodus Rabbah 45:3 "It can be compared to a cave situated by the seashore into which the sea once penetrated, and having filled it, never departed, but was always flowing in and out of it. So it was that God spoke to Moses and Moses to God."

"Metaphors be with you."