Continuing on last week’s issue, this past Friday concluded 2 weeks at the Yeshiva (Jewish learning program) in Jerusalem.
Below are 5 new lessons and experiences from week 2 that intrigued me and/or resonated with me:
We visited the the tomb of our matriarchs in Hebron - Sarah, Rivka, Rachel, & Leah - and our patriarchs - Avraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It was a rich emotional experience to be at a physical location for the founding personalities of the Jewish nation. Praying by their graves led me to shed tears because of their model behavior I strive to continue.
In the morning we have continued to learn Basi Legani (1951). In the last newsletter, I mentioned how a person brings G-dliness into the world by transforming his/her state of being. This past week we took this a step further by discussing one of the modes of service in the Temple, which was the offering of korbanot (sacrifices). When the word sacrifice, especially of animals, is mentioned, it’s common to view it negatively. However, we can understand what it really means by looking at the verse to describe man’s service, “A man who shall bring from you an offering to G-d… shall you bring your offering” (Vayikra1:2). The previous Rebbe points out the problem of the phrase from you, which gives insight into man’s personal service. The verb used for “bringing an offering” is yakriv which shares root with the verb karev “to draw near.” The function of the korban is to draw us closer to G-d. In our personal lives, when we aim to improve an area of our life, we sacrifice the old ways of being. The body, related to the animal, often wants to do what is familiar and habitual, so by praying and meditating we sacrifice the urges of the body to eat, get distracted, etc and build presence. This challenging process builds presence and a way of being calm, which draws us closer to G-d.
In a debate amongst three sages, the the central, most important verse in the Torah is from Numbers 28:4, “sacrifice one lamb in the morning and one lamb in the afternoon.” As opposed to others who said the most important verse is “Hear O Israel the Lord is your G-d, the Lord is One” and another who said, “Love your fellow as yourself” it was the verse about sacrificing one lamb in the morning and one lamb in afternoon. Whereas the loving your fellow represents emotions and “hear o Israel” represents intellect, the most important verse represents consistent daily action. Many artists, athletes, musicians, and other professionals often stress the importance of consistency. We can see from this verse that here also in the Torah, falling in love with the effort process, the daily showing up to pray and meditate, is what leads to a continuity of the practice, as well as the development of refined intellect, emotions, and, like the professions, skill.
There is a teaching we learned on the laws of Shabbat: “all animals that typically have a collar around their necks when they go out to the public domain may go out with a collar on Shabbat…(Shabbat 51b)” However, there is a deeper teaching taught by the first Rebbe aka the Altar Rebbe. The word for collar in Hebrew can also be translated as song. So the teaching can also be understood that through song/music one can enter into a state of transcendence, “going out” meaning breaking out of their limitations.
I had the privilege to meet with Rabbi Gil Locks, the Guru Jew who went from being a guru in India meditating 23 hours a day, to venturing in christian paths, and eventually finding his path in Judaism. Meeting with him was very special and hearing about some of his stories was remarkable. I highly recommend watching this video Gutman’s Story Goes to Hollywood to hear more about his journey.
Bonus that was in the newsletter:
This week I got to help out at Tamir Goodman’s basketball camp, like I had 3 years ago! In honor of the past 3 years, here is my podcast episode with Tamir which is also my first episode: Morning Routines & Mindfulness in the moment with Tamir Goodman.