Published May 2022
“THE TWO SEAS”
As we prepare to celebrate Israel’s 74th birthday this month, I am reminded of the two seas in that sacred land, connected by the river Jordan. One is the Yam Kineret, the Sea of Galilee, and the other is the Yam Hamelach, the Salt or Dead Sea. The Sea of Galilee, on the northern end, is fresh. Fish swim in it, and splashes of green adorn its banks. People build their homes near it and every kind of life is happier because it is there. On the southern end of the Jordan is the Dead Sea. There are no fish in it and few live there. Neither humans nor animals will drink its poisoned waters. What is the difference between these two seas, since they are both watered by the Jordan, which sends the same water into both?
The difference is that the Sea of Galilee receives but does not keep the Jordan. For every drop that flows into it, another drop flows out. The giving and receiving is in equal measure. The Dead Sea, on the other hand, is greedy and hoards its income jealously. It cannot be tempted into any kind of hospitality or any generous impulse. Every drop it gets, it keeps. The Sea of Galilee gives and lives. This other sea gives nothing. It is called dead. There are two kinds of seas in Israel. There are also two kinds of people in this world. Each of us must answer the question: what kind am I?
Rabbi Alvin Kass
Chief Chaplain of the NYPD