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daily reflection: Illumination

B”H

March 2, 2020

“And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure olive oil beaten for the light, to cause a lamp to burn continually.”

– Exodus 27:20, JPS 1917 Tanach

Only the purest of olive oil was sanctioned for use in the seven-branched menorah (candelabra) in the Sanctuary. The specifications given in Torah, concerning this requirement, point towards a teaching. Only the first droplets of oil from the olives could be used for the illumination of the menorah. By analogy, when our lives are under pressure, our best efforts are brought forth to meet the challenges designed for us from Above, for the sake of our spiritual growth.

daily reflection: Groundwork

B”H

March 1, 2020

Below the ground, a structure is rooted in the earth, whereby its stability is secured. The same is true with a more common, natural example, trees, whose roots provide nourishment as well as a secure attachment to the ground. In both cases, what we do not readily see, is the groundwork.

By analogy, the truths of a religious belief and practice are not visible to the eye that does not attempt to see more than what is on the surface. To perceive the underpinnings of belief and practice, the mind must inquire into the groundwork; otherwise, only a superficial understanding is gained.

Dependency on a religious structure, without personal inquiry, study, and observance will not suffice for an understanding that goes beyond the superficial. Only by delving into the details, by connecting to G-d on a daily basis, and inquiring into His ways, can a person be completely, nourished by the roots of religion.

daily contemplation: Spiritual Atunement

B”H

February 27, 2020

Tune in, if you will, to the nature of your being, notwithstanding the many bandwidths that may prevent you from clearly hearing your own. Make the effort, above all else, to guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23) against the noise and chatter of the outside world. For, only in the silence of the heart, can your spiritual tuning fork be heard as it rings.

daily contemplation: Silence

B”H

February 21, 2020

“Be still, and know that I am G-d.”

– Psalm 46:10

When we allow ourselves to rest in the silence, our minds may resist; we may become restless. Yet, persistence in the art of silent prayer, by setting aside a few minutes or more every day, will give way to a rich interior life.

Within that silence, there is an opportunity to rest, not only from our daily concerns, rather, also to rest from the compulsion to be active. This takes practice as well as patience; a helpful method might be to focus on a particular verse from scripture. Not as a mantra; rather, let the words sink into your bones. And, permit the meaning to flow into your mind and heart.

note: this is a repost of my answer to the question,

“Is G-d okay with us praying in silence?” at quora. com

daily contemplation: Equanimity

B”H

February 20, 2020

The depths of pain, the heights of joy; yet, there is an equanimity to be found somewhere within the presence of G-d. “Whither shall I go from Thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there; if I make my bed in the nether-world, behold, Thou art there” (Psalm 139:7–8, JPS 1917 Tanach). “Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even weaned as a child” (Psalm 131:2, JPS 1917 Tanach).

A child weaned denotes an equanimity, wherein a person is content in this world with whatever G-d brings his way. The soul grows accustomed to whatever sustenance that G-d provides for spiritual growth. Suffering will often compel a person to reach out towards G-d; and, joy will draw out words of praise to Him. How much more so, when G-d has lifted a struggling soul, high above its personal pains and sufferings, will there indeed be reason to rejoice?

note – this is reposted from my answer to the question:

“Why is suffering just as important as joy?”

(see my profile, Tzvi Fievel at quora.com)

daily contemplation: Shifting Values

B”H

February 16, 2020

“I will redeem you with an outstretched arm.”

– Exodus 6:6, JPS 1917 Tanach

There is a saying, concerning the departure from Egypt, that B’nei Yisrael (the Children of Israel) had a much more challenging task ahead of them: removing Egypt from their hearts. They were brought out through the strength of G-d, Who redeemed them “with an out stretched arm.” Yet, the greater effort on their part, was incumbent upon themselves to make the changes in their new approach to life, effectively, leaving their past ways behind.

Although help from Above, through G-d’s intervention, may serve as a catalyst to change, our response is required, with the upmost discipline, to heed the call to freedom on a daily basis. Although B’nei Yisrael was freed from slavery, they became servants of G-d through matan Torah (the giving of the Commandments). True freedom is embracing the yoke of Heaven, so that we may be free from the burden of chet (sin).