reflections: The Path of Life

B”H

the path of life

“In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct thy paths.”

– Proverbs 3:6 , JPS 1917 Tanach

If the path of life seems broad to the individual, who deems that he is freely given the reins of his life, to think, feel, and choose as he would like, a second thought is required. In fact, are not most of us more likely to think that we are free, because there is such a vast array of choices to choose from in life? Yet, if we reflect on our choices, we may find that we are not free at all. Rather, we are subject to the influence of others in ways that we may not even recognise. It is often our peers, who influence us during our childhood years, perhaps, even more so than our family, depending on the circumstances. Even so, if we look closely at our own character, we will invariably have to admit the similarities to our parents.

In families where the reins were kept loose from an early age, the world may appear to be an amusement park; yet, there may be no rational basis in our early years, in regard to the formation of a worldview; hence, we are shaped by our peers, as well as our own rebellion from whatever family values, we feel may have been imposed upon us. If our teenage spirit is not reined in by a balanced perspective of life, regarding some amount of self discipline and self control, then we are subject to follow the unbridled dispositions of our heart.

Not that I mean to make a sweeping generalisation; yet, this seems be the norm, unless brought up in a more traditional home, wherein, religious, ethical, or academic standards were clearly demonstrated and inculcated. These are my thoughts, encapsulating my limited perspective, on the issue of personal identity, having to find my own, after partaking of the smorgasbord of life, without carefully considering the ramifications of my appetite.

My standard is now grounded in the wisdom of G-d, rather than the shifting sands of my emotions, inclinations, and worldly perspective. Rather than a leaf, being blown in the wind, I have grown roots into the rich heritage of my belief and practice. Reishis chochma yiras H’Shem – the beginning of wisdom is fear of the L-RD (Psalm 111:10). In what will continue to be a lifelong attempt to walk a fine line down the road of life, I try to foster a balanced perspective, based on the little that I understand, from gleaning the guidelines set before me, within the pages of the original blueprint of the world.

This blueprint is found within the pages of what may amount to the most popular self-improvement book, that surprisingly enough, can never be found on the shelf where all of the other self-help books are located. That is because, the book that I am referring to can not actually be categorized as a self-help book at all; rather, it is a book wherein one may improve his or her life with the help of G-d. With the inspiration of the words from this book, along with the authoritative words of those who have studied this book more than me, my roots continue to bring spiritual nourishment to my soul, strengthening my resolve to follow the derech (path) set before me.

“The path of the righteous is as the light of dawn, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”

– Proverbs 4:18, JPS 1917 Tanach

Groundedness

B”H

yesod shebbe yesod

(foundation within foundation)

Below the surface of the earth, rests the foundation of a building, the support of an infrastructure. In the same manner, man is like a tree, whose roots provide a reinforcement against the storms of life. “And he shall be like a tree planted by streams of water, that bringeth forth its fruit in its season, and whose leaf doth not wither; and in whatsoever he doeth he shall prosper” (Psalm 1:3, JPS 1917 Tanach).

The sefirah (attribute) of yesod may be understood as portraying foundational beliefs and attitudes, corresponding to what is most important in our lives. Within the context of a daily existence, some people are more intentional, with regard to living in accord with clear beliefs that generate proper conduct, based upon a specific set of truths. Others, upon examining themselves, may find that their beliefs, attitudes, and behavior are derived from various sources; whereupon, these sources may be disparate, not constituting a consistent worldview.

We should ask ourselves upon examination (heshbon hanefesh – an accounting of the soul), whether our underlying assumptions are able to withstand the harsh realities of life that may pour down upon us. Will our prevailing attitudes about life enable us to weather the various storms that we may encounter along the road of life? If not, then we should consider adding a little more support to our foundation.

Omer – 41 Days

The Second Passover

B”H

Pesach Sheini 5780

Thursday night begins Pesach Sheini – the second Passover, for those who were impure, according to the definition of Torah, or were on a distant journey. Pesach Sheini connotes the idea of second chances. The Israelites who were not able to observe Pesach were given a second chance, one month later, in order to do so. Today, the concept may be applicable to the personal instances of our lives, when we were given a second chance of some nature. Traditionally, matzoh is eaten on Pesach Sheini, a one day holiday that will end Friday night as Shabbos begins.

kindness within harmony

B”H

Omer Count:

Day 15 of the counting of the Omer

chesed shebbe tiferes

(kindness within humility)

Today begins the third week of the counting of the omer. This week focuses on the quality of tiferes (harmony, beauty, balance). The word itself, literally means “glory” or “splendor” (Wikipedia). Yet, within the framework of the sefirot, it’s role as a middah (character trait), refects its interaction with other traits.

To bring harmony into actuality in one’s own life is dependent on internal as well as external factors. Predominantly, in changing ourselves, we should be able to effect a tikkun (rectification) that will influence others around us. Moreover, when we are in harmony with the laws of G-d, our soul will flourish in all that we do. The element of kindness within harmony reminds us that the maintenance of a spiritual homeostasis within ourselves is best done through kindness, mercy, and compassion, to ourselves as well as others. For how we act towards others will in turn influence our own character.

Reflections: Inner Contentment

B”H

April 22, 2020 (25 Nissan 5780)

“For He concealeth me in His pavilion in the day of evil; He hideth me in the covert of His tent; He lifteth me up upon a rock.”

– Psalm 27:5, JPS 1917 Tanach

In troubled times, a troubled spirit will lead to personal unrest. Yet, an inner contentedness (yes, there is such a word) may be born out of a well placed trust in H’Shem, for every moment of one’s entire life. Surely, this is an ideal statement; yet, the actuality may be approached through constant endurance of life’s travails, despite the hardships that may have the potential to overwhelm us. With His help, strength, and emunah (faith) in us, we will prevail over the darkness of our lives, especially during the pandemic.

“Be strong and of good courage, fear not.”

“For the L-rd thy G-d, He it is that doth go with thee; He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

– Deuteronomy 31:6

daily meditation: Preparation

“The preparations of the heart are man’s.”

– Proverbs 16:1, JPS 1917 Tanach

Passover is around the corner; I imagine that this might be the most meaningful of all Passovers. For the intent of reading the Haggadah (Exodus narrative) at the seder meal, while partaking of symbolic foods is to relive the experience of our ancestors. This year, we are readily able to do so, because the passage of the ten plagues, in particular, will overlap with our current experience of reality.

Early on, within the framework of the everchanging coronavirus timeline, I realised that food stockpiling would not make sense, beyond a certain point with Pesach swiftly approaching. My staple foods are oats, rice and beans. Oats are classified as chometz, and for the Ashekenazi Jews, rice and beans are kitnios; they are not permitted to be eaten, nor even in one’s possession, during the eight days of Passover.

This dilemma creates an opportunity for a greater reliance on H’Shem, and trust in His provision. Not only will I trust that I’ll be able to purchase what I need for Passover; I also need to rely on His provision for me after Passover. I will not worry about what the health food store shelves will look like after Passover, when I will need to restock my supply of oats, rice and beans.

These are my usual day to day basic food items; yet, coincidentally, they may also be the most convenient foods for the necessity of preparing for a long term hunkering down scenario. Even so, I wouldn’t acquire more than I need, for 4-5 weeks at the most, purchased gradually, not all at once, because that would be inconsiderate of others. Ethics must play a role in prepping; otherwise, it is a slippery slope towards selfishness, lack of compassion, and disregard for our fellow human beings.

The preparation most necessary at a time like this is the “preparation of the heart.” If we turn our hearts toward H’Shem, He will meet us halfway (Talmud). He will free us from the shackles of confinement that may accrue upon our psyches, as each day passes. He will lead us out of our own personal Mitzraim (Egypt), so that we may walk through the waters of Yam Suf (Splitting of the Sea), when we experience a personal breakthrough in our lives. And, we will receive the words that He has spoken at Sinai, gladly in our hearts.

daily contemplation: Chasing Shadows

“Surely His salvation is nigh them that fear Him.”

– Psalm 85:9, JPS 1917 Tanach

Looking forward in time, I have a vision for the near future. Yet, there is a certain derech (path), for me to arrive at the destination. There is a specific manner, that outlines how to get there. The road whereon I may accomplish my goals, step by step, in an incremental manner, is fraught with hazards. Even so, this has been provided for, that I may reach the heights of spiritual growth in my life in due time.

Only when I begin to consider sheker (falsity) as real, do I compromise the effort being made: chasing the shadows of my past, instead of following the dreams of my future, I may falter on the way. Wherein lies the reconciliation of my previous footsteps, along the road to freedom with my present-day life? Shall I let the sands of time drift, and cover over my footsteps? Or shall I retrace my steps, in order to analyze, learn, and grow through my introspection?

The ever-present risk is the potential to get sidetracked; yet, I can not move forward without knowing where I came from. If I do not recover my past, in a manner that gives me a foundation for the future, then the future that I envision for myself will crumble. My heritage, family roots, and future of my people, all play a role, that forms a necessary part of the overall equation. With G-d at the helm of the ship, so to speak, keeping everything on course, shall I falter?

Meditations: Out of the Mire

B”H

February 13, 2020

“Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink.”

– Psalm 69:14, JPS 1917 Tanach

Some mornings, it is as if I’m stuck in the mire of my past; a sign for me to somehow reconcile my feelings in an honest way with myself and G-d. Waiting patiently for insight, I felt compelled to write in my journal this morning, as well as share a few words. These are candid words; I hope that they will be accessible to others for the sake of their own journey. For myself, a glimmer of light has appeared on the horizon. My hope is that the same will be true for others in due time, according to G-d’s will.

It is a progressive path, not an overnight realisation, as if everything shifts into resolution at once. The uphill climb is not easy; it takes effort, determination, and constant hope. “The L-rd is good unto them that wait for Him” (Lamentations 3:25). Perhaps, quoting this verse sounds like a contradiction. How is it possible to act and wait at the same time? Keeping with my routine, staying the course, and placing my trust in G-d, I also wait for his response to the prayers of my heart.

Inner Calling

B”H February 9, 2020 “How long, O L-RD, wilt Thou forget me for ever? How long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me?” Psalm 13:2, JPS 1917 Tanach The concept of hester panim (G-d’s hiding his face) from man, speaks of the need to find Him within the circumstances of our lives, despite His apparent […]

Inner Calling — Clear Horizons

Thirst Quenched

B”H February 8, 2020 “O G-d, Thou art my G-d, earnestly will I seek Thee; my soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee, in a dry and weary land, where no water is.” Psalm 63:2, JPS 1917 Tanach G-d is still my G-d, that is in season or out of season. In other […]

Thirst Quenched — Clear Horizons