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The Garden of Forking Paths
 by: Rabbi Simcha

Dr. Yu Tsun, professor of English, a man committed to "living in the present," and a Chinese spy for the Germans during WWI, reflects on his great ancestor, Ts'ui PÍn, a learned and famous man who renounced his job as governor of Yunnan to undertake two tasks: to write a vast and intricate novel, and to construct an equally vast and intricate labyrinth, one "in which all men would lose their way." Ts'ui PÍn was murdered before completing his novel, however, and what he did write was a "contradictory jumble of irresolute drafts" that made no sense to subsequent readers; nor was the labyrinth ever found. Tsun visits a Dr. Albert, who excitedly explains he has solved both mysteries-the chaotic and jumbled nature of Ts'ui PÍn's unfinished book, and the mystery of his lost labyrinth; they are one and the same: the book is the labyrinth.

Based on a cryptic letter from Ts'ui PÍn himself stating, "I leave to several futures my garden of forking paths," Dr. Albert realized that the "garden of forking paths" was the novel, and that the forking took place in time, not in space. Ts'ui PÍn's novel attempted to describe a world where all possible outcomes of an event occur simultaneously, each one itself leading to further proliferations of possibilities. Albert further explains that these constantly diverging paths do sometimes converge again, though as the result of a different chain of causes; for example, he says, in one possible timeline Dr. Tsun has come to his house as an enemy, in another, as a friend. Though thrilled with the explanation, Tsun draws a revolver, and murders Albert. The newspaper headlines, "Tsun Kills Albert," gets the message to Berlin, and Albert Park, the secret location of British artillery, is bombed as Tsun goes on trial. All the paths of past and future, Britain and Germany, converge in the Garden of Forking Paths. (Jorge Luis Borges)

Towards the beginning of the Seder, we hold a Matzah in our hands and break it in two, stepping into the forking paths of history. The paths of past, present and future converge on Pesach as we relive the exodus from Egypt as if we were there, as if it was here, projecting its lessons into the future. We step into the labyrinth of time, considering all possible outcomes of choices, the diverging paths of the two pieces of Matzah.

It is impossible to enter the world of free choice without considering the forking paths. The four rivers of Eden converged and forked because the story was not inscribed in stone. Each choice is an adventure that offers numerous possibilities. Our's too, is a Garden of Forking Paths.

The Metzorah (Biblical leper) prepares for atonement after weeks of being enclosed by the walls of his room unable to step into the Garden, by bringing two birds. One will be offered on the Altar; the other will be released to soar into the sky. He does not know which bird will be offered and which will fly. The Kohen will choose. The Metzorah forfeit his ability to enter the Garden of Choices when he focused only on the negative. The walls that enclosed him were his own. He did not see the world as offering different paths. He saw only one way; his own. The Kohen reintroduces him into the Garden of Forking Paths, the world of choices, and reminds him that he can choose to soar into the garden, or remain stuck in his preprogrammed world; a world of death.

We spend much of the Seder speaking of history and God's promises, and forget His first promise of freedom; a life of free choice, a future of possibilities. I hold the two pieces of the broken Matzah in my hand ready for the Seder as an adventure of choices; which approach will I use this year? I have no idea, other than to live every aspect of my life as a Garden of Forking Paths.

About The Author

Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies
The author invites you to visit:


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