Two tiny Ohalah moments

Words and notes

This morning, Reb Marcia held forth on the conference theme of ruach hakodesh. She used her time to delve deeply into some important words. "After all," she noted, "ha-kadosh baruch hu [the Holy Blessed One] creates with words, and we use so many of them and rarely mean any of them."

Obsession with words isn't new for Reb Marcia. Her book The Path of Blessing is a close exploration of the six words that begin every Hebrew blessing. (I reviewed that book here.)

Today she taught that one way to learn about a word is to come to understand its opposite. We looked at shalom, at the phrase hayom harat olam (usually rendered "today is the birthday of the world"), and at different ways of understanding the word simcha (usually translated as "joy.") And, of course, we explored the cluster of meanings and connotations in ruach and in kodesh.

At one point she told a beautiful story, of which I offer a tiny taste here:

I had for a long time on my mantel a silver flute, a chalil. I used to enjoy taking it down and just holding it in my hands...

One day I gave it away to a flautist. I could feel its longing to be played, and no matter how much I admired it, I kept it from its purpose.

This helped me understand the rabbis' statement that a human being is like a shofar. Were it not for the Holy One of Blessing blowing through us, we would make no sound at all. We long to be played.

I love the idea that we are instruments, empty until the Breath of Life breathes in and through us. That we yearn to contribute to the melody of the world.

Technorati tags: , , , .