Yigal Yadin was one of the most well known and celebrated Israeli archaeologists. He was responsible for the historical excavations at sites such as Masada, and the Qumran caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.

He and his teams unearthed hundreds of fascinating ancient artifacts in Israel, ranging from letters of the leader of the Jewish revolt against Rome, to perfectly intact date seeds - one of which was planted and grew into a tree.

One of the most common objects which Yadin's team discovered, over and over again, were sandals. Large sandals and small, ornate and simple sandals, some in excellent condition and some hardly recognizable. Being the primary type of footwear worn in ancient times, it comes as no surprise that so many sandals were discovered. One of these sandals is on display in the gallery of the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Israel Museum.

Sandals have more than historical and archeological significance in Judaism. ‘Sandal’ is also the name of a special angel, which in Jewish mysticism corresponds to the corona of the sun. This angel’s specialty is to help us… ‘not get lost in light’. Yes, that probably sounds very esoteric. And furthermore, who ever gets lost in light? Flashlights aren’t made for when the midday sun is shining brightly, they’re for when it’s dark out! In Judaism, we have plenty of inspirational tools to help us ‘not get lost in the dark’. But who needs help with getting lost in the light?

Light has a lot of benefits. It’s when everything is going great, everything makes sense and business is booming. Fantastic! The quandary is that a human being is not just a computer.

True, G‑d does endow every human being with extremely powerful, intellectual and emotional ‘computers’. Our minds and emotional capacities struggle to make sense of thousands of complicated - and very often challenging - computations and emotions which are bombarded at us every day. So when ‘it’s light outside’ and everything is going swimmingly and makes sense, it is tremendously relieving for us. 

Yet we can still get lost, even in ‘light’. Take someone whose deepest passion and pleasure is music. If that person is blessed with a ‘midas touch’, finding themselves succeeding at everything from cooking to engineering, they might create a fantastically successful, three Michelin starred restaurant - and still feel that something is missing.

A computer only needs everything to make sense, and is perfectly content. A human being needs more. Much more. We need connection, truth, values, Torah, faith and family. Just having everything make sense and succeed is wonderful, but not always enough. Our values still matter to us, sometimes even more than success. 

The trick is to combine light and success with our core values, and make our values succeed. That is a magical combination. This is the job of the angel called ‘Sandal’: To make sure that our ‘sunlight’ - our success, talents and efforts are concentrated on things that truly matter to us. 

Our entire being, all of our ‘light’, culminates in our feet - what we do and where we go with it all. If we wear the right ‘sandals’ and combine our core selves and values together with our ‘light’, the results are magical. It is not only success (though that is tremendously important of course), but something even more profound: Joy (Simcha שמחה in Hebrew).

Indeed, we just began the Jewish month of Adar, about which the Talmud writes, ‘During the month of Adar we must increase in joy (משנכנס אדר מרבין בשמחה)'.

Yes, the world presents us with many threats and challenges. As we work to face them and keep our communities safe and secure, we can be fueled with the immense joy and happiness of Judaism.


Rabbi Avrohom