30 March 2006

Passing Over

Passover cometh, what with all of us in need of freedom - freedom of soul, freedom of body - freedom from thinking that we are already free.

The Ba'al Shem Tov talks about darkness within darkness, where it's so dark, you don't even know it's dark - you think it's broad daylight.

Awareness that we get trapped by our situations, our preconceptions, our very framework of understanding - this awareness arouses the taste for freedom, the desire for freedom.

It's all about wanting it.

If you don't want it, you can at least WANT to want it, and if that fails (R' Simcha Bunem tells us) you can WANT to WANT to want it.

May we all be blessed to come on out of slavery - to WANT freedom - to hang on to the life line that God throws us this month and get pulled on out of all of our traps and masters - physical, mental and emotional.

May it be his will...

11 March 2006

Walking with the Maggid

A childhood acquaintance of Rav Dov Ber, the Great Maggid of Mezeritch, once approached him with a question.

"Dov Ber", he began, with no honorific, "why do you daven for so long? I mean, you take forever to daven. I also daven with the mystical intentions of the Arizal. Does it take me that long to daven? No. You daven forever! What's going on?"

The Maggid responded, "You're a businessman, right?"


"And you go to the yearly fair in Leipzig, right?"


"So let me tell you what to do. This year, when the time for the fair comes, close your eyes, picture yourself loading up the wagon, picture yourself rolling along the roads, coming into the fair, selling what you need to sell and buying what you need to buy, and then picture yourself going home."

"What, are you crazy? I need the merchandise!"

"Ahhh", says the Maggid, "So do I...I need the merchandise."

I've been walking with that story for the past few weeks.

It can be easy for me to let the lessons I learn stay in my head, but never really integrate them. The Maggid says it flat out - your lip service is cute. Are you getting the merchandise?

I declare at least three times a day "God is One!", but do I act like God is one? Do I really believe it? When something doesn't fit my little world, do I get my fool self out of the way and make space for God's reality? Do I have space for God in my life, or do I just have space for the little plastic god that I've carved out for myself, that fits so neatly into its little plastic place?

May we all be blessed to learn the holy teachings with our whole beings, not just with our heads. May we be blessed to walk with the teachings, integrating them into our lives, and may our insides and our outsides be unified.

07 March 2006

A Little Bit about Dreams

Here we are, many days since last post. My little cluster of blog brothers have been slowing down lately. Seasonal affective disorder? Better things to do? Dunno.

I've been happily busy. Working, learning, trying to organize a non-profit, davening to dream and dance and hope and love and give and grow, reading about Benjamin Franklin in the bathroom (that's where I read about him, not the topic I read about.)

But what, you may ask, is really on your mind? Well, I'll tell ya'. I'm thinking about how under God's blue sky I'm going to find my wife. What is it that I have to fix or do or understand or pray for or hope for?

I'm thinking about how the whole process of dating has completely changed the way I view relationships, women, the world, and myself.

I'm thinking about how I've always thought myself to be an intellectual person, and now I'm realizing I can be quite emotional, and then I'm remembering how I used to write love poems before the scary social realities of adolescence squashed all of that out of me, and now it's coming back to blossom.

I'm thinking about those scary social realities, and how they taught me about cruelty, and how only now am I realizing that women can be caring and open and honest and loving and playful and all that, and that the cruelty I met was the cruelty of adolescent girls and not of women (of the cruelty of women, let us not speak.)

I'm thinking of hope - of dreams - of connecting with potential realities and talking to God about it and having God smile and nod and get a little bit of joy every time there's a little bit more light and sweetness in your dreams for the future.

Dream on.

I'm so thankful for this progress and process. I can see how I am the person that I am, and have the dreams and depth and potential for love that I do, because of all this effort. Don't let me get away without admitting that I have more work to do - in being present, in caring, in sacrificing, and in ways I've yet to concieve.

But let me tell you the truth - I'm scared that it's just going to shlep on forever. I don't want to be alone. I don't want to be cooking for myself for the rest of my life (I'd rather cook for someone else.) I want to be there for somebody. I want someone who cares about me. I want to raise a whole mess of kids.

So this is clarifying my dreams.

Good deal.

Are they clear enough yet?


Are they clear enough?