There is a fourth statement that floats in our potion like a lily pod floating in a tranquil pond. It gently attracts our attention. It is worth our while to sit by the pond and ponder the power and worth of words and tales and tellings. Our spirits are calmed as we hearken back to journals and journeys allowing them to guide our lives and our souls.
“I am a stranger among you (23:4).” The Mateh focused on that line. If it were possible for a staff of wood, even a staff formed by G from the Tree of Life/Knowledge to smile a melancholy smile, that is what would have happened. For something as special as the Mateh, time and space bend and flow in many directions and the Mateh can see downstream and upstream with ease. And it saw and heard and felt the words of a Rabbi some four thousand years later, trying to capture the continuous connection to this verse.
He was teaching that this verse was referring to the Jewish soul and hir(1) relationship to this world. A Jewish soul is part of the physical reality, for it is taught to inhabit and elevate it. Virtually all Mitzvot, all Sacred Connections are connections between this world and the higher realms. Virtually all Mitzvot are actions involving elevating physical objects. The challenge for the Jewish soul is to make a dwelling place for the Shehinah (the dwellingness of G) in the material realm, by making sacred everyday actions and mundane materials. And yet the Jewish soul is a ‘stranger’ in a strange land, the material world. Hir(1) true home, the secret inner home is higher and deeper than the material world. It is in the realm of the spirit. The home of the soul is the world of holiness, the wholeness of harmony. The Jewish soul yearns to return and yet remains through the physical body in the realm of the physical, learning its lessons, teaching its lessons until it is called to separate and return home.
This, the Mateh grokked, it understood. For the Mateh, this piece of staff this piece of wood is the symbol of the residing in, and elevating of the physical. The Mateh was not just a piece or wood. It was a piece of would, a piece of hope. It was the would of elevation. The Mateh is the physical reminder of what the Jewish soul, indeed what all souls could, should and would do and be. The soul would elevate the soporific secular into the stirring sacred. The Mateh felt justifiable pride in its place as the reminder to the two-leggeds of the connection between the material realm and the spirit realm. It felt the heavy weight of the honor of obligation. The Mateh was, is and always will be the symbol of hope. The Mateh of wood: The symbol of would. “Loo Yehi” (That it would be, that it will be)
(1) I use ‘hir’ to replace the awkward ‘his/her’