The first week in Jerusalem has been full of great learnings. There have been classes on various topics of Judaism, including family purity laws, shabbat, laws, Hebrew, as well as the soul-enriching topics which illuminate and add color to the practices in Judaism. Below are 5 lessons from this first week that intrigued me and/or resonated with me:
Shabbat, the sabbath, is a day of rest, yet it is 25 hours long from sunset Friday night to sunset Saturday night. Why is it 25 hours? Between sunset and dusk there is twilight. There is a doubt (in hebrew sofek) whether twilight is day or night. Whenever there is a sofek, the next step is to determine if the matter at hand is a torah law (biblical command by G-d) or a rabbinic law (set by great rabbis in order to assure proper practice of biblical law). If it is a Torah law, one must be strict in the decision. If it is rabbinic, the decision can be liberal. Shabbat is a Torah law from G-d, so it must be strict in how it’s practiced. Thus, as shabbat arrives Friday night twilight is considered dusk and as shabbat concludes Saturday night twilight is considered part of the day, which comes to about 25 hours.
What’s the first word that comes to mind when you think of laws? Is it a restriction or a relationship? Judaism is often called a religion, but its really a relationship with the Creator. The laws are there to enhance the relationship.
Earlier this year I learned with my Rabbi back home Basi Legani 5721 (I have come to My Garden), a discourse of Chassidic philosophy by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi MM Schneerson, from the year 1961. In the mornings here at the Yeshiva, we began learning Basi Legani by the previous Rebbe 10 years prior (1951). So far in this discourse, we have learned that “man must labor at his task of beirurim [from boreh, to choose], sifting and refining materiality, by subordinating and transforming his physical nature.” In other words, the way a person brings G-dliness into the world is through transforming his/her state of being. If a person has a tendency of feeling anxious, he can refine the world by transforming his nature into a calmer, present state. Checkout my work and videos on meditation for help on actualizing this process.
Often we give to others based on our own Love Language (of the 5 Love Languages) without figuring out what the other person’s love language is. If my love language is quality time (QT) (which it really is), then I would often reciprocate by giving QT. However, QT may not be the other person’s love language. So it is important to determine the love language of the person you’re in a relationship (friendly or romantic) with has. Also, masculinity is not just a topic of men and women, it is about giving while femininity is about receiving.
G-d is not physical nor spiritual; but the physical is more in contact with G-d. The more interconnected things are, the more spiritual it is. The more separate things are, the more physical it is. This was an hour long discussion which arrived at the above conclusion; however, ultimately, the fact that something is there (in the world) is our parallel to G-d. Rather than transcend the world completely, the purpose is to make this world a dwelling place for G-d by revealing the spiritual within the physical.
In addition to these 5 lessons, I have had the wonderful opportunities to explore the old city of Jerusalem seeing both where the 3rd Temple will stand and, for the 4th time in my life, the western wall. This learning experience so far has been enriching and I really appreciate all my prior experiences at meditation retreats and daily practice of meditation as they taught me similar lessons using another language. I feel like all that meditative work has helped me cultivate a state of being able to absorb new information from a calmer and more open mind.
I look forward to learning and sharing more! Comment if there’s anything you’re interested in reading about from my journey.