After three days of learning at a wonderful Jewish Learning Institute, I don’t know where to begin.
My mind is mostly blank when it comes to sharing this experience. The sparks from this amazing learning are flying around and have not quite landed. One thing I’m certain of is it will be quite a ride.
Here are my first few takeaways.
For You Hashem
One of the young women from my program asked to take my “class” picture and I tried posing several times. Ugg! … And I don’t mean “Ugg” like the trendy Australian boots. Unlike the feet in these comfy boots, I don’t feel comfortable or natural standing still and smiling for photos. How do photogenic people look so vibrant and relaxed?
Then I remembered… what’s this all for?
To please and connect with G-d, Hashem.
This lofty concept is not just for the obvious spiritual things like praying, meditating, reading spiritual books. Yes yes of course to these holy times specifically set aside for G-d. But equally yes to all the myriad mundane events that pass through every day. Remembering to smile and be kind to the various strangers with whom we might briefly interact each day, asking Hashem what he wants of us in any given moment, saying thank you to G-d throughout the day for the big and little things.
I forget this all the time. When I do remember, stress leaves my body. Even as I type now, I remind myself of why I am writing.
While getting this little photo taken and trying to not look awkward, I remembered…
Even this… is for Hashem.
Was the result a model photo?
No! Instead my tiny concerns slipped away. Routine moments became mini connections with G-d. In these moments, the world becomes lighter, softer.
Feet On The Ground And Head In the Clouds
My cousin asked me today why I love this learning so much. Usually a woman of a million words, I couldn’t answer. 🤭 All that came to mind was… I feel grounded, comfortable in my skin, AND my head connected to the One Above.
A new feeling… It reminds me of what I was always striving for in ballet and jazz dance classes years ago. Feet firmly on the ground with head, spine and neck elongated. I never felt like I got it. 🥺
Yet…. this week I have this spiritual AND physical experience of body and spirit working together. Not unlike the left and right hand on the piano creating layered, rich, and fulfilling music.
More, I Want More
Looking back I remember just three of my lines from the various plays I was in while growing up.
A Man’s A Man: “A man’s a man, but that is something anyone might mention....”
Up the Down Staircase: “A kaleidoscope, a crazy quilt, an everlasting pattern….”
3rd Grade Play : “More, More bring me More!!”
And that’s where I am now. Back to that 3rd grade girl sitting at a feast craving more food. Except this time it’s real.
I am hungry for more learning.
Thank you Hashem for this big fat gift with bows and ribbons and sparkles.
Now, here is a request to everyone sharing these stories with me. Please help me remember that the learning’s purpose is not for the sake of knowledge and intellect.
It is to please and connect with G-d, the one above who loves us so dearly.
With love to you all,
Vivi 🥰 ©
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A Man’s A Man by Bertolt Brecht, Up The Down Staircase By Christopher Sergel/From the book by Bel Kaufman.