endurance of harmony


March 27, 2020

netzach shebbe tiferes

(endurance within harmony)

The center will not hold, unless our center is not predicated strictly upon a sense of self; rather, only a central focus on G-d, will support a sense of balance, by way of transcending ourselves. The ego thrives on pride, and a sense of accomplishment attributed to the efforts made by oneself. Yet, because we are limited beings, this kind of image, focused on self will not endure. True harmony within may only endure through help from Above; otherwise, the weight of our own world will drag us down. “Cast your burdens upon H’Shem (the L-RD), and He will sustain you” (Psalm 55:23).

Meditation: Know Thyself


February 14, 2020

“And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the G-d of thy father, and serve Him with a whole heart and with a willing mind.” – 1 Chronicles 28:9, JPS 1917 Tanach

The Greek adage is to know thyself. Yet, King David told Solomon, his son, “Know thou the G-d of thy father.” Solomon was full of wisdom. He wrote the Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes. Yet, perhaps, King David was calling upon Solomon to stay focused on H’Shem.

Many people today would like to find themselves, and achieve their potential, otherwise stated as “self-actualization.” This is all well and good. Yet, to leave G-d out of the question will leave the aspirant short-sighted. There is so much more potential for us, when we acknowledge G-d in all our ways (Proverbs 3:6). He should be our goal: in finding Him, we find ourselves. By getting to know Him, we are better able to understand ourselves.

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

Ennui Revisited


I think that ennui may manifest as boredom; while, on the other hand, ennui may have to do with the lack of a cohesive and complete sense of existential meaning in an individual’s life. Therefore, boredom could be understood as one particular sign or indicator of a lack of all-encompassing existential meaning in life. Otherwise, would’nt life be captivating every moment in time?

Also, I would contend that the avoidance of so-called boredom by way of a preoccupation with activity, in and of itself may be an attempt to distract oneself from the problem, unless that activity is meaningful. So, ennui could be hidden, seemingly so, behind the perpetual need to occupy one’s time with distractions. 

My daily religious routine brings a distinct sense of meaning and value to my life. I would emphasize how it is exactly the value of connecting to G-d that permits me to transcend the type of ennui that may mask itself as boredom.

Yet, there is an inherent risk in constant religious activity, if this is done without kavannah (intention). In like manner that a lack of patience – an inability to rest in the moment – may lead to pre-occupying oneself with various distractions, so too, can religious practices be done in a way that does not consist of true nourishment to the soul. The resultant circumstance is that religious practices, like secular distractions may unfortunately take on the status of busy activity, if not performed in a sincere manner from the heart.

In the religious realm, it is ultimately quietude that provides for a reflective state of mind to connect with G-d. In Judaism, this is called deveykus – clinging to G-d; yet, a rote practice, without focusing on meaning, erodes the significance of deveykus. Moreover, a hurried and distracted mind will not contribute to a sense of kavannah (intention).

Even so, a religious routine contains the potential to calm and focus the fettered soul; that is religion’s advantage, akin to meditation in the Eastern tradition. Incidentally, Judaism has its own brand of meditation as well as the more common element of prayer, inasmuch that meditation in the Jewish tradition often precedes prayer, by placing the adherent in a state of mind more conducive to prayer.

In summary, the ennui that manifests as boredom, or lurks behind the compulsion to stay active in order to escape the existential truth of one’s life, will dissolve over time as a meaningful focus on G-d transcends any discontent in our lives.

the Gate of Heaven


highlight from parashas Vayeitzei

by Tzvi Schnee

“And he was afraid, and said: ‘How full of awe is this place! this is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’”

– Genesis 28:17, JPS 1917 Tanach

Jacob gathered some stones together, placed them around his head, and went to sleep for the evening; during the night he dreamed: “Behold a ladder set up on earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold the angels of G-d ascending and descending on it” (Genesis 28:12). When he awoke, he exclaimed, “this is the gate of heaven” (see above). According to Sforno, “The ladder signified that it was from that place that prayers ascend to heaven” (sefaria.org).

This place (hamakom) was where the Temple was later constructed, serving as a conduit between heaven and earth; additionaly, the Heavenly Temple rests above this location in Shomayim (Heaven). The importance of a gate, where a connection exists between heaven and earth serves as an inspiration for us to know that our prayers have the opportunity to ascend to G-d. Many people pray at the Western Wall, in Jerusalem, where the Temple once stood; yet, we are not limited in the efficacy of our prayers, when praying outside of Jerusalem.

The Talmud speaks of H’Shem’s immanence and transcendance: He may hear the whispered prayer of a person praying in a small sanctuary in the countries where the Jewish people are dispersed (Ezekekiel 11:16). So, we should take heart in knowing that G-d will hear our prayers, whether communal or individual prayers, even though He is sitting on His throne in Seventh Heaven (Talmud).