This week, we read Parshat Pinchas. The Haftorah for that Parsha is from Jeremiah, and part of it reads:
“Hashem said to me, “You have seen well, for I hasten to fulfill My word. The word of Hashem came to me a second time, saying, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see a bubbling pot, and its spout is facing north (alternative translation: its bubbling is from the northern side.)
“And Hashem said to me, “From the north shall the evil loose itself upon all the inhabitants of the land.”
This is one of the most famous passages in scripture, and it’s been explained so many ways, most recently involving the whole Syrian civil war and the face-off between Russia and America.
But after discovering that enormous volcanic field to the N-NE of Israel (or what would have been directly north in Jeremiah’s time, as the tribes of Reuven, Gad and Manasseh were located where present Jordan is today), I’ve started to see this verse in a completely different light.
That whole imagery of a ‘bubbling pot’ called to mind something else I’d read in Mysteries of Creation, by Rav Dovid Brown, where he brings some of the descriptions of gehinnom as found in the Gemara. Like this:
“The whole world is like the cover of a pot, compared to gehinnom.” (Taanit 10a)
“Once the people of Tiveria ran a pipe carrying cold water through a branch of the local hot springs in order to have piped hot water. The sages told them that the water flowing from the system on Shabbat is prohibited for both drinking and bathing; on yom tov, permitted for drinking, but forbidden for bathing.
“The Gemara (Shabbos 39a) explains that the story of Tiveria was cited as a precedent contrary to the opinion of Rabbi Yosi who permits cooking with a heat source other than fire. However, Rabbi Yosi finds no contradiction in that ruling, for the heat source of the hot springs [of Tiveria] is fire, as the springs get their heat by passing through the entrance of gehinnom.”
(Talking about Korach and his crew who spoke evil against the Tzaddik of the generation, and are now being roasted for eternity in gehinnom. An arab guide took Rabba bar bar Channa to the place in the desert where you could still hear their cries. The Gemara continues (Bava Batra 74a):
“The Arab told me, “Every thirty days gehinnom returns them to this spot, as pieces of meat stewing in a pot on the fire constantly churn in the liquid, and they scream, “Moshe and his Torah are true. We are frauds.”
What happened in Parshat Korach? The ground suddenly fissured, Korah and his entourage fell into gehinnom, and then “A fire went out from God and consumed the 250 men who had offered incense.” (Parshat Korach, 16:23-35).
Scary stuff! Doesn’t this sound at least a little like what we’re seeing going on with our own eyes in Hawaii right now, by Fissure 8 et al, albeit the lava is moving more slowly so no-one’s been killed?
The Gemara (Eruvin 19a) explains there are three entrances to gehinnom:
The Vilna Gaon explains (Even Shleima, 146):
“Gehinnom is in the depths of the earth.”
And now, back to the ‘pot’ theme again, this time from Bereishit Rabba, 33:1:
“One covers an earthenware pot with an equally earthenware lid. In the same way, God covers gehinnom….God proclaims, “I transported the rashaim (evildoers) to gehinnom and covered them with the t’hom.”
In a book called Continents in Motion, a geologist by the name of Walter Sullivan tried to explain how the earth came to be ‘spread out’ over the oceans, via molten magma rising to the surface. He said:
“Convection currents moving slowly in the deep of the earth… explain the distribution of the continents over the earth’s surface. In the churning pot, hot material arises directly over the flame, spreads and cools on the surface, thus becoming heavier, and sinks down the sides to be drawn in over the flame at the bottom, and heated again.”
“I see a bubbling pot, and its spout is facing north (alternative translation: its bubbling is from the northern side.)”
It seems to me, that ‘bubbling pot’ is referring to a huge underground lava lake – like the one close to Israel’s Northern border, next to the Harrat Ash Shamah volcanic field (which is in Syria, btw, and not Saudi Arabia as I incorrectly told you earlier.)
It seems to me, the ‘spout’ of that lake is facing North – i.e. AWAY from Israel itself, which is located to the South, and instead in the direction of Syria, Lebanon and Turkey (and beyond that, the Ukraine and Eastern Europe).
The last thing I wanted to share with you for now is the reasons that Jews got burnt up, or fell into gehinnom. It’s not because they worshipped idols (even though they did.)
It’s not because they broke Shabbat and ate traif (even though they did). If you look through Tanach, there are four main sins that caused Jews to get thrown into that boiling pot of molten magma which is actually gehinnom.
What are they?
Earthquakes are a precursor for volcanic activity. When the earthquakes start to pick up in an area, that means magma is on the move deep down below the ground. Magma = gehinnom.
This week’s earthquakes in Israel, near to where those 20+ volcanoes are standing sentinel along the Golan heights, is a warning that ‘the boiling pot’ is really starting to bubble, underground.
Now is the time to really think about where we’re holding in relation to the four sins mentioned above, and to make whatever teshuva is really necessary.