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.


Miss Nibbles said...

What is daven?

Miss Nibbles

Miss Nibbles said...

Wait... I think I figured it out.

Yup. I win. (that and I asked another Jewish friend... :)

Miss Nibbles

'laizer said...

Daven means pray (although "pray" has connotations that I don't neccesary like.)

I stumbled across http://ebionite.org/glossa.htm which lists a bunch of the non-English terms that I throw around.

As for the origin of this particular word...the following comes from http://www.davening.net/

There are two popular theories about its origin of the word "Daven":

The first is that it is related to the Aramaic word meaning "of our fathers". This refers to the tradition that Abraham instituted the practice of morning prayer, Isaac afternoon prayer, and Jacob evening prayer, as recorded in many places (Talmud: Tractate Berachot, folio 26b).

The second theory is that it comes from Old French, in which case it is related to the English word "devotion", and entered Jewish vocabulary by way of Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzchak, the medieval French Torah commentator).