Archive for April, 2013
Lovingkindness within Foundation
Jewish tradition maintains that at all times there are 36 especially righteous people in the world, and that were it not for them, the world would come to an end. Of course, since we don’t know who these people are, it is a good practice to consider each person you meet as one of them. Perhaps the grumpy check-out person at the supermarket is really holding up the world. It may be that your child’s baseball coach, or the librarian, or the teenager hanging out on the corner is one of those special thirty six. It might be your rabbi, your grandchild, or even you. If we treated each person we encountered that way, we could transform the world.
Endless lovingkindness is holding up the foundation of the world today. Celebrate that fact by adding your own unique dose of demonstrating compassion and caring today.
Indwelling Presence within Splendor
Malchut is related to the word Melech, King, and is sometimes translated as ’sovereignty’. I think of sovereignty as a quality of a wise, guiding leader, not of an autocratic demagogue. Would that all Kings and Queens guided their people that way!!!
Today, we recognize that Divine Guidance is an essential part of all the splendor in the Universe. Consider the latest discoveries in astronomy — dark matter, beautifully colored rotating galaxies, ancient light reaching us. The Psalms are full of these kind of images….read a few today!
Foundation within Splendor
The foundations of our lives are built on our cumulative experience and the knowledge we have gathered along the way. We are all several ’selves’– our most private self of inner thoughts and responses, our ‘family self’, our ‘friend self’, the self we display at work, in the neighborhood or at public events. Each is a response to a different set of expectations, yet each is also based on a foundational self–the one that is our ‘bottom line’ of ethical behavior, of automatic caring and of our deepest loves. Today we remember that underpinning of all of our selves…the yesod that holds us up, in all of our splendor.
Splendor within Splendor
Shavua tov! Today is Lag b’Omer, the special holiday that is celebrated on the 33rd day of the counting toward revelation. We can find many explanations for the holiday, but I want to focus on how it is marked today – with picnics and outdoor events. We celebrate the diversity of nature as evidence of the splendor in our world. Appreciation implies responsibility. Today, this means responsibility for preserving the diversity of nature so that future generations will be able to appreciate it. Climate change is real. In Israel, Lag b’Omer picnics are usually accompanied by campfires– but this year wildfires are raging. In other locations, lovely picnic groves have become surrounded by dying vegetation. We can, appropriately, look at Lag b’Omer as a call to environmental action.
Rav Kook says: The whole is constituted of numberless particulars, particular individuals and particular communities The whole cannot achieve its highest fulfillment except through the perfection of its particular individuals, and the particular communities, whether large of small, of which it is constituted.” Communities of plants, insects, mammals, trees and humans all count as part of the splendor we celebrate today.
Endurance within Splendor
It’s almost Shabbat. We’ve all endured a long and challenging week, each with our own individual challenges. Shabbat comes as a reward…we can enjoy the Splendor of Shabbat.
Harmony within Splendor
The multitude of individual ‘bits’ of beauty are necessary to produce overall splendor. The notes and rhythmic signatures in written music are simple instructions, yet combined and performed, a symphony results. Smiles between strangers can be meaningless by themselves, but combined, can spread joy across a room, or a city.
Today we celebrate the tiny miracles that add up in our world. When we aware of them, we can help spread their effect, contributing to a better world!
Discernment within Splendor
Discernment is necessary when presented with a wide array of choice. I have been in New York City for the past few days, where there is an overwhelming variety of choices for just about everything! A splendid smorgasbord, but one that could result in paralysis unless it were possible to make choices. We are reminded today that we always have a wide variety of choices available, whether we are in a large city, in a small village or confined to a small, single room. It takes thoughtful, deliberate strength to analyze options and make decisions. It is important to examine any situation in small enough portions to allow us to appreciate the diversity and not be overwhelmed by it.
Lovingkindness within Splendor
Compssion sometimes is manifest in small, surprising ways. I’m reminded of the song with the line “Hello, in there”, referring to the humanity we can see in strangers we encounter, when we remember to really SEE them. I suppose I’m particularly aware of that tonight, since I’m in Manhattan, which I sometimes forget is so full of people! Going for a long walk on city streets, passing a huge variety of people hurrying about their business in their busy-ness, I remember the unspoken prohibition against making eye contact with them. A smile on the street from a stranger can have powerful impact here – is it an invitation? a come-on? should I be afraid? What if I am the person initiating that smile? A little bit of caring, even if it’s just to move aside to allow a person in a hurry to pass me on the crowded sidewalk, can mean a lot. The many miniature impacts of such caring multiply, a manifestation of splendor!
Indwelling Presence within Endurance
Today is a day to remember that the Source/the Force/the Holy Oneness is always with us, a wellspring of strength that helps us persevere through pain, anger and fear. This past week has been overfilled with disaster and tragedy, a week where the energy of Netzach, persistence, was unfortunately necessary. Boston Marathon bombings, terror suspects bringing a huge city to a halt, and a disastrous earthquake…and, of course, the many tragedies that make few headlines because we have become immune to the deaths due to uncontrolled guns and civil wars, to malnutrition, neglect and domestic violence. Today, let us remember that helpers, the heroes, the survivors, all those who, fueled by compassion and morality, fight to help us recognize the humanity behind the tragedy. May we all recognize that Presence within us calls each of us to right action and gives us the energy to endure.
Foundation within Endurance
Yesod, ‘Foundation’, is often considered the seat of the ego. When our egos are well formed and carefully tended they tend not to grow out of proportion. A healthy ego is the foundation of a charitable, kind, confident and self-reflective person. It is this kind of foundation that helps keep us grounded as we move daily, little by little, toward our goals….or, at the very least, help us navigate around the obstacles in our path!