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The Search

Ram Barkai, a 56-year-old Israeli, has a bold plan. He will fly to the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia in Argentina, and then board an icebreaker towards the frozen continent, Antarctica. There, in waters 3-7 degrees below zero Celsius, which never freeze because of the high salt content, he plans to swim a full mile in waters teeming with sea lions and G-d knows what else. He promises to swim while wearing a cap with a blue star of David.

Is this man insane? His background suggests not. Before his retirement he managed an investment company with hundreds of employees. Today he devotes his time to his hobby, swimming, and raising his four children. But what is it that is driving him to undertake this daring adventure, to risk his life at this stage?

If we broaden our view just a bit, we see Jewish youth combing the earth, in the most distant and dangerous places, in search of – what? Adventure? Truth? Fulfillment? It’s clear they’re looking for something, and this search impels them to take tremendous risks and endure any discomfort. But what are they seeking?

The answer to this question can be found in our holy Torah, as explained and interpreted in Chassidic teachings. In brief: They are searching for their soul’s redemption, for G-dliness, as is written (Hoshea 3:5), “And they will seek the L-rd their G-d and David their king.” And it’s like looking for someone you haven’t met yet: You don’t have a clear idea of what you’re trying to find, so you can easily become confused about the target of your search. Yet the soul knows exactly what it’s seeking.

Every soul has its specific sparks of holiness that it needs to collect somewhere in the universe. These sparks can be hidden in anything –a stream in some distant jungle that has been waiting since the six days of creation for someone to come along and say a blessing over its waters; a conversation with a lost soul on a topic of faith, that inspires him and brings him back “home.” We don’t know when, whom or how, but our soul is still drawn towards the place -- to whichever distant corner of the universe awaiting our intervention.

Soon the wanderings will be over. The Lubavitcher Rebbe has announced that our task now is not to gather the sparks of holiness, but to bring the holiness out into the open in a revealed form. Through performing mitzvot and conducting ourselves in an exemplary fashion wherever we go, we bring about the ultimate Redemption. Very soon the entire world will come to the realization that we have already entered into the era of Redemption and Moshiach’s leadership will be universally acknowledged.



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