Let My People Know

"The contraction of the infinite sea"


A factor in the unique circumstance of receiving the Torah is the Wilderness.

Wilderness is a sign of human neglect and abandon, of land that belongs to no one and has no landmarks that prohibit trespassing. 

One can go anywhere, in any direction. 

In order to receive the Torah, one has to relinquish identity and purpose (which belong to the cultivated land) and be nullified before God. 

Only in the highest Sefirah of Keter is such an abandonment possible.

This is another reason for the repeated saying, "I am the Lord your God who took you out of the land of Egypt (Mitzraim)." 

The word Mitzraim consists of the syllables "maitzar" to make narrow, and "yam". 

"Yam" means sea and is the symbol for Malchut (the last Sefirah, Kingdom). 

But Malchut is also representative of the whole of the earth, including the seas. 

Indeed Malchut has many different names, such as Shechinah, Jerusalem, the diamond, and the Sea.

It is said that it has seventy faces, each with its own facet of being. 

Each has its own way of being infinitely receptive (for instance, the diamond absorbs and reflects all the colors; the sea, all the waters). 

As the earth, Malchut receives all the seeds of life and engenders growth.

As the sea, it is even more basically receptive, with all reality emptying itself into it. 

The withdrawal action of Malchut becomes the Maitzar-yam, the contraction (maitzar) of the infinite sea to enable the worlds of Creation, Formation, and Action to come into existence.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From In the Beginning by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz