Parshat Emor: Scaling The Unknown
A few years back I embarked on a grueling challenge to climb the tallest mountain in Europe, the Mont Blanc.
Being physically fit was never one of my strengths, yet I was motivated by the idea of experiencing something completely beyond my comfort zone.
The final accent began at the crack of dawn, after an unsuccessful attempt to catch some sleep in a remote mountain refuge.
Exhausted and nervous, coupled with pain from the previous days’ thoroughly challenging excursions, I asked my Italian guide if he thought I could make it.
Without batting an eye lid, he looked me in the eyes as he pointed to his forehead and asked: “how strong are you mentally?”
At that point, I thought I had a chance.
We began the eight-hour accent in full gear. One step at a time, using crampons and an ice axe, we began the long trek through snow and ice.
We encountered narrow ridges with steep falls on either side.
Avoiding crevasses which could appear anywhere, we dug deep to muster the strength and courage to persist.
After seven hours of the most grueling experience of my life, as we finally began to approach the summit, I was in for an unpleasant surprise.
To my horror, the narrow ridge upon which we were walking had come to a formidable end.
At this point we were told that we would have to scale across a vertical mountain rock, with a drop of circa 1000 meters, in order to get to the other side.
There were only hooks in the rock to which one could fasten one’s rope, and some crevices upon which to etch ones tired feet.
For a split second, I considered quitting. But how could one give up so close to the summit.
So, I took a leap of faith and scaled across the abyss, and moments later was at the top of the mountain.
Over the past few months, I have come to reflect on this experience, and find that it can serve as a poignant metaphor for our times.
We are living through a period of profound transition.
We are all becoming acutely aware that the old models and systems are fast becoming obsolete.
Old trajectories for financial success and personal happiness are being challenged. Business models of the past no longer apply.
Any healthy measure of visibility is no longer possible.
It is as if the ground upon which we have trodden so securely and for so long, is disappearing.
The commodities upon which we have come to depend are dissipating.
The ‘virtual’ seems to be taking the place of ‘reality’.
Perhaps then the only solution is to dig deep inside of us.
Because beneath the surface there is a reservoir of faith and trust in a divine force which is timeless and infinite.
As Jews we have been compelled to deal and to even embrace times of transition.
We do so by securing ourselves to the “Rock of Israel”.
Yes, there might not be secure footing beneath us.
But with powerful faith and trust in G-d, we are more secure than ever.
It is the faith that enables us to cross to the other side of the abyss, to a new world order, as we make our final approach to the summit.