One of Benny’s favorite foods is fish sticks. It only hit me “why” this evening as I took Benny on a walk in his stroller. I was stopped by a nice woman who recognized Benny and offered to play with Benny and take him on walks as well. During the conversation, she mentioned that her father O”H knew Zaida Ben and told me the story of how they met. Her father traveled to Seattle on business and went to Shul for davening. He was approached by Zaida, and shortly, thereafter, he was enjoying a lavish breakfast overlooking Lake Washington in the comfort of the Genauer Home (Hotel – as it was known). My Bubbie and Zaida loved having company and prepared for guests even before they knew they were having any. They always had a spread of fresh fish, lox or kipper salmon.
One other memory I have of my Zaida O”H is taking us to see the Locks in Seattle. It was one of his favorite tourist destinations and mine too. To read more about the Locks click on this link : http://www.myballard.com/ballard-locks-seattle/.
The Locks is where Puget Sound and Lake Washington merge. The salt water and fresh water separated by 26 feet.
The locks are also a critical link for salmon and steelhead heading upstream to spawn. A fish ladder with 21 steps or “weirs” allows spawning fish to climb to the freshwater side Young fish, then return down through the locks out to Puget Sound.
I delved a bit as to the meaning of the fish in Perek Shira (The Songs of the Universe). The Siach Yitzchok says that the fish are more fortunate than other creatures. They live in the water, a place where impurity has no power. The fish sing “Kol Hashem Al HaMayim” the voice of Hashem is on the water. They sing of their good fortune to live in the holy waters where the voice of Hashem still resonates.
The Torah is compared to water. The Torah like water does not become impure. If we only were to spend more time swimming in these pure waters of Torah and vast oceans we can achieve purity and clarity in our lives and may even hear the voice of Hashem. As Hashem spoke to the Naviem, Yechezkel and Daniel by the water.
Just as the fish work hard every year and climb 21 steps up the ladder to get to the fresh water, critical to the wellbeing of the fish, we too can also achieve peace of mind and clarity if we delve into the sea of Torah.
I never realized why my Zaida was so fascinated with the Locks, or why he enjoyed walking on his porch, every day, overlooking Lake Washington . However, after learning more about the symbolism it is crystal clear. For Zaida, there were no questions. Zaida was so connected to the water/Torah and was able to achieve the peace of mind and clarity that we all are so desperate for.
I”H as Benny munches on his fish sticks, let the symbolism of the fish climbing to live in these pure waters/ Torah absorb in his body and soul and bring about his Refuah Shlema B’Korov (speedy recovery).
I look forward to taking Benny to Seattle one day very soon G-D Willing. In the meantime we will just have to visit the fish in the fountain at The Grove.