My Hebrew birthday is the 13th of Iyar (is on May 4, 2023). As mentioned in previous articles around this time, each year I reflect on the previous year, as well as envision the year ahead.
Last year as I entered into age 26, I had the opportunity to be in Guatemala. During that trip, there was a large swing at Hobbetenango Point I got to experience in which I later wrote a post about:
“Swinging into 26 with a bang… literally! Tonight (Shabbat) is my Hebrew birthday and these last few days I have crowned the year with adventure, joy, and eruption in Guatemala.”
This year I made a short reel of highlights from the previous year (on Instagram), and a recent photo I have from a mitzvoim adventure, is of me sliding down a pretty high slide.
So I decided:
“Last year I swung into 26, this year I’ll slide into 27. “
What do swinging and sliding mean?
Swinging is the action moving back and forth from side to side while suspended or on an axis. In one’s personal life, perhaps this represents moving back and forth, expanding and adding breadth to one’s knowledge and experiences, until finally settling in one spot. In review of the year, after taking the initial “drop” into the momentum, I was mostly involved in expanding my knowledge in Torah and living as an orthodox Jew. This was expressed in studying at yeshivas, where I also “swung” from one (Morristown) to another (Hadar HaTorah), until the “swing” finally came to a rest and I settled to “learn where [my] heart desires.”
In Chassidus, davening (prayer) and meditation are likened to a ladder. During the stages of davening, one gradually ascends levels - corresponding to the four worlds - in consciousness of G-d. As one “climbs” the levels, ideally he is more in tune with and aware of being one with G-d. This process of “climbing” is also called “ratzo” where one is “running” towards G-d [in prayer and learning Torah], yearning to be closer.
After one reaches the top, so to speak, meaning he (hopefully) achieves a real state of alignment, or dveikus (spiritual rapture), the real avodah, or spiritual work, is to maintain that elevated state throughout the day. In other words, he needs to descend from the ladder and influence his surroundings, or infuse all he engages in, with the elevation and connection he achieved. This process is called “shuv” where one is “returning” to the world, so to speak.
However, descending does not need to come through means of going down the ladder. Perhaps, a smoother descent can come about another way, such as through “sliding.”
Sliding alludes to a smooth descent from a higher level to a lower level. In chassidus, the process of moving from a higher place to a lower place is going from the spiritual to the material. In other words, spiritually speaking, thought is higher and deeper than action, which is low and limited. For example, a person can have an idea of a business. As a thought, the idea is very intimate only within himself and he can imagine endless details. In order to bring that idea into the world, the idea has to undergo a process of “descending” ie processing how it can work, then going through all the necessary steps for it to materialize. Depending on the idea, as well as other important factors, such as the person’s mindset, motivation, and method (skills), and challenges that arise, the process of spiritual to material can be quick or lengthy. Sliding emphasizes moving from above to below in one motion, one slide, and the ease and flow of manifesting.
With G-d’s help, may this year be, for you and for me, full of effortlessly materializing dreams, visions, blessings, and intentions, like sliding down a slide. 🙏🏼