Every day of Pesach we say the Hallel prayer, which contains a description of the exodus from Egypt, the splitting of the Red Sea, and many other miracles connected with these events. "The sea saw and fled, the Jordan turned backward. The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like young sheep." (Psalms 114:3) What quality do the mountains have that causes them to skip, and why do the waters flee?

…where all souls share a common root and are like brothers to one another…

Rebbe Shneur Zalman of Liadi explains that these two miracles represent two kinds of service to G‑d: one motivated by fear, the other by love. The sea, like a servant, flees when the king reveals himself because he is afraid that the king is displeased with him. The mountains, like a loyal minister, are joyful when the king arrives and greets him, eager to carry out his every command. This joy is expressed by the skipping of the mountains which represent the world of Atzilut, where all souls share a common root and are like brothers to one another and to G‑d.

The concept of the source of the souls in Atzilut is connected with another miracle that occurred during the parting of the Red Sea. The Jewish People walking on dry land in the middle of the sea is similar to the way their souls rose in the mind of G‑d. How are these two things connected? According to the Arizal, the Seventh Day of Pesach, a commemoration of the parting of the Red Sea, is also the day when the souls of the Jewish People were "born" - or brought down from Atzilut. True, they already had souls, but this event was the revelation of the higher level of the souls.

How did this "birth" take place?

As mentioned above, all souls have their source in Atzilut where there is a complete unity among them and with G‑d. This level of unity is ideal, but for a soul to exist as a separate entity and to be born, it must descend to the lower level of Beriya through malchut. This process is similar to that of speech.

Before one speaks, the words are not yet formed…

Before one speaks, the words are not yet formed, but the idea of what is going to be said is unified in the mind. Even when the idea of the words begins to emerge, this idea is still one idea. Once the words descend to a lower level and leave the mouth, they are separate from the intellect. Malchut represents the mouth in the process of speech, and it also represents the sea, the part of the physical world which is concealed from view under the water.

The concealment by the aspect of malchut is necessary for any birth or creation. Created things do not see or hear the words of G‑d as the words are creating them; if they could perceive these words, their existence would be nullified to the words, just as rays of the sun can hardly be distinguished from the sun itself. Even the angels in the higher worlds understand clearly that they are created from the speech of G‑d, and this knowledge fills them with awe and love for their Creator. However, the process of their creation is concealed from them also in the aspect of malchut.

One can reach higher levels by "skipping"…

The concealment period or "pregnancy" of the souls begins on Shemini Atzeret. The souls are brought from highest aspect within Atzilut to malchut of Atzilut where they remain for seven months until they descend on the seventh day of Pesach. Just as the human fetus receives nourishment from its mother while it grows in the womb, so the souls receive their nourishment from malchut of Atzilut. The souls remain there for seven months until they descend on the seventh day of Pesach. When we ask for rain on Shemini Atzeret, we are also asking for a successful "birth" of the souls seven months later.

What energy propels the actual birth and creates "contractions"? The energy must come from a higher level than Atzilut in order to "shake up" Atzilut and release the souls. This energy is the light from the first letter "hei" in G‑d's name and serves as a catalyst for the "birth". The impact of this energy from beyond the levels of the worlds is like the supernaturally strong winds that G‑d sent to split the sea. The energy that propelled the winds is from the encompassing light and breaks the sea, which conceals the supreme levels of G‑dliness. When the encompassing light split the sea, the mountains, representing the sefirot of chesed, gevura and tiferet, began to dance, since these attributes are above the level of the sea, which represents concealment.

The skipping of the mountains shows us that, at such a time, one can reach higher levels by "skipping" from the lowest to the highest levels instead of merely "stepping", progressing one level after another in sequence. The seventh day of Pesach, then, is like a day of renewal for the souls of Israel, a day when any Jew can "skip" to his or her highest spiritual potential.

[Adapted from Likutei Torah, "Hayam Ra'ah Vyanos", p. 16]