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Wishful thinking

Open our eyes...

This morning at shul, after our usual mindfulness practice, we spent a short while doing insight meditation. We focused on a line from the liturgy: v'ha-er eyneinu b'Toratecha, v'dabek libeinu b'mitzvotecha, v'yached levaveinu l'ahava u-l'ira et-sh'mecha. Loosely translated, it means, "Open our eyes to Your Torah, cause us to cleave to Your mitzvot, and unite our hearts in love and awe of Your name."

The syntax of the verse draws a parallel between Toratecha (Your Torah), mitzvotecha (Your mitzvot) and sh'mecha (Your name). Each one leads to the next; engaging with Torah can cause one to practice mitzvot (literally "commandments," though the term has connotations of general righteousness), and that in turn can bring one to encounter God's name, to encounter the essence of God.

Going a little deeper into the verse, I think the first clause seeks a kind of consciousness expansion. (I see "open our eyes" as a metaphor for moving from mochin d'katnut/"small mind" to mochin d'gadlut/"big mind", microcosmic human consciousness to macrocosmic God-consciousness.) The latter two clauses feature verbs of profound connection: first dabek, then yached.  (Dabek, דבק/daled-bet-quf, shares a root with the term devekut -- usually translated as cleaving-to-God, a kind of mystical union. Yached, יחד/yud-khet-daled, shares a root with echad, "one.")

So how do these three things go together? Again, one leads to the next, which leads to the next. Mind-expansion that allows us to imagine God's way of seeing things can lead to  devekut/cleaving, which can lead to yachid/oneness. It's not clear to me whether we're asking for our hearts to be united with God, or to be united with each others' hearts in the service of God, but either way it's a pretty powerful message. We're asking for radical connection.

After meditation, I zipped through translating a decent-sized section (eleven verses) of this week's Torah portion, along the way learning vocabulary words like "calf" and "ox" (and learning nifty bits of Torah trivia, like the composition of the mincha, grain-offering, in antiquity). At one point I looked up at Jeff and said, "I think this is getting easier." He confirmed that I'm improving, which made me happy. I'm still not sure how to connect what I'm reading in Leviticus with my modern-day journey towards holiness, but I think that's okay. I want my eyes opened to Torah, like the verse says, but before I can grasp its deeper meanings I have to be able to parse the sentences. And though I'm not there yet, at least I'm moving in that direction.

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