Today is twenty-nine days, which is four weeks and one day of the Omer in the year 5780. חסד שבהוד, Chesed ShebeHod, Covenantal Love of Splendor.
To be perfectly honest, I avoided writing this meditation. Then I thought with dread about the possibility of falling asleep without writing it and adding it to my excruciatingly long to-do list for tomorrow. I suppose my course assignments are not that over-taxing. It’s just between primary parenting and having the attention span of a gnat, completing them is a heavy lift.
Inspo from Last Year: Undermining the notion of purely rational Litvaks
Skimming last year’s post, I recalled the depth of explanation revealed in The Soul of Life. The irony of this book, foundational to Litvak / Lithuanian Jewish culture, is how poetic, dare I say mystical, it reads. You see, Litvaks pride themselves on their rationality and deep intellectualism. They look down upon the poetic Polish Jews with their “backward” belief in amulets and Hasidism. Scratch the surface of these distinctions and realize their sugar essence. They dissolve under scrutiny.
In reality, all Jewish societies connected to rational Talmud study, mystical Zohar / Lurianic Kabbalistic study, and ethical / Mussar study. The trifold merger of the three foundational aspects of Judaism: ancient wisdom, philosophical / mystical Medieval expansion, and the nuts and bolts of being good and keeping yourself accountable to the good.
Understanding the metaphor of Divine light
Rabbi Yosef Chayyim of Baghdad explained why “light” refers to activities of The One Without End (HaShem beyond the sephirot) and the sephirot: “it is not because they are really light. Rather, it’s only because of the limitation of our intellect while it is still clothed in the physicality of the body to grasp the truth nature and the essence of the spiritual, and so it is impossible to describe spiritual actions as they are, so as to assign them a sufficiently descriptive name; for that reason they assigned it the name ‘light,’ for it is the most precious of the perceivable.” (Footnote 91, Page 45)
Not even the light of HaShem is meant as a literal expression according to Jewish mystics. They realized how insufficient language is to contain what exists beyond the physical world. And yet, they also fully embraced the physical world.
Shunning hermits, accepting the need for space
Judaism shuns hermits. Sometimes wise men may go off into the woods, or hole up in their studies. But only after getting married and producing offspring. Often, their wives financially support their mystical roundabouts. I think about this precedent when I accept that my partner takes charge of the kids after dinner to allow me to write these posts. When we believe in the work our partner is doing, it is not a burden to give them the space to continue the work. We take turns making ourselves the priority. Eventually it all gets done.
Entering the week of Splendor
We have entered a new week of Divine permutations. Hod, Splendor, focuses the prophetic speech of Netzach, creating the temple within our bodies and in our physical location wherein we engage the Divine. The Covenantal Love of Splendor is the recognition that by making space for the Divine, we create the possibility of feeling Divine reality, recognizing the truth of God, and finding our way into relationship with HaShem.
Clear the decks: letting go of an omniscient and omnipotent God
How can we clear the mental debris and make space for that relationship? Personally, I had to let go of Christian ideals binding my imagination. I no longer feel guilty for not believing in an all-powerful and all-knowing God. HaShem is no less ultimate, no less ever-present because I recognize the limitations of HaShem in physical reality. As Isaac Luria noted in his creation myth, making space for non-God shattered the vessels containing God. Material reality broke the Divine. By healing the brokenness within myself, I heal the Divine. This is why I named my blog Broken Rabbi (in training). I admit my brokenness. My fear lives with the anxiety of wondering if I can heal enough to be useful to those around me.
Everything has its place
I must start with simple steps towards creating the physical space to hold me and accompany me into relationship with Eternal Strength and Grace.