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Fire & Water

Friday, 4 January, 2019 - 7:36 am

When fire is placed under a pot of water, the water boils. But if the water and fire get too close to each other, they can longer join forces. Either the water will be evaporated or the fire will be extinguished.

An exception to this rule occurred in the seventh plague that Hashem brought upon Egypt. We read about the plague of hail in this week’s parsha Va’era.

Hail is a relatively common occurrence. In some climates hail may be the size of golf balls! But, still, this hardly feels like a message from G-d. What was so harsh and unique about this plague that would cause Pharaoh and his people to learn a lesson?

The Torah adds one detail that makes this hail stand out: “So there was hail, and fire flaring up within the hail.”

This major miracle of fire inside the hail is explained by the Midrash:

Imagine two fierce legions who were always at war with one another, but when the king needed their services for his own battle, he made peace between them, so that both should carry out the orders of the king. Likewise, fire and water are hostile to each other, but when the time came to do war with Egypt, G‑d made peace between them and both smote the Egyptians as “fire within the hail.”

***

According to the mystics fire and water represent two different personalities. Michael, the Angel of Water, stands on G-d’s right side – representing Chesed (Kindness). Chesed is personified by love, benevolence and attraction. Gavriel, the Angel of Fire, stands on G-d’s left side – the symbol of Gevurah. Gevurah (Severity) is embodies in the traits of self-discipline, judgment and strength.

Normally, fire and water don’t get along.

To be certain, Michael and Gavriel are equally holy. Chesed personalities might prefer love as a motivation and may gravitate toward helping others as their primary role. Gevurah personalities will likely focus on awe and respect for G-d and others, with an emphasis on self-improvement.

Two polar opposites usually remain in their own domains.

There is one exception, however. For a higher calling, fire and water get along.

***

We live in a world and era consumed with factionalism. Chesed or gevurah, right or left, inside or outside – we all have our own preferences. In a sense, many personalities is exactly what G-d wants.

When it comes to fulfilling G-d’s Will, however, we ought to remember that even fire and water can – and must – work hand in hand.

It’s a miracle. And, it’s one we are capable of.

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