A High Holiday Meditation

Facing the Music.

Print this page Print this page

Prayer is the path that leads me into the Void, into the silence, into Ayin [nothingness], which is the source of infinite potential. The words of prayer must point me towards that nothingness, and the beauty of prayer exists to inspire in me the courage to " let go" completely.

In letting go of life, expectations, identity, boundaries, belief, certainty, and content, I am set free from the chains of the past. Then I can allow the power of re-creation to surprise me. All of the power of prayer--memory, regret, vision, commitment--can be dedicated in trust to this process of transformation.

Teshuvah : The Art of Response

The second key is teshuvah, a word usually translated as repentance or return. It also means response, and in that meaning I find instruction guiding me towards a certain stance in relation to my life.

When the "great shofar is sounded"..."the still small voice" emerges as my response. The art of response requires listening, which necessitates the cultivation of a patient, calm receptive presence. I don?t mean listening as a passive bystander. The kind of listening I?m talking about is when you allow yourself to be addressed directly; it means "taking it personally."

When I walk outside and look up at the sky, I can open myself to receive its blue as a gift or as a letter that is addressed to me. Its beauty calls forth a response--gratefulness, praise, wonder. Something in me rises to meet that presence which calls to me through the purity of Blue.

And when I encounter suffering in the world, I can let its mystery address me, calling forth compassion from my own depths. Response is an art form that requires opening, listening and knowing oneself and one?s reactions. Responsibility is the freedom to respond wisely, rather than be enslaved by patterns of reaction.

Tzedakah : Living out the Implications of Mysticism

Justice, righteousness, or charity are usually understood as actions governed by rules that are imposed from without. Yet all of us have had powerful experiences that transcend our usual perception of separateness and plant deep within us a seed of the truth of our essential unity and interconnectedness. It is the seed of tzedek, of righteousness. Most often that seed is ignored, belittled, compartmentalized, mystified, kept secret, or forgotten.

What can I do in the world that will be consistent with the vision of unity that I had? How do I relate to strangers knowing that we are intimately bound? How shall the implications of the peak unfold in my daily lowland wanderings?

That flash of knowing is like "the great shofar" that is sounded, an encounter with mystery. And then "the still small voice" calls me to live in the truth of my encounter, in the illumination of that flash.

Facing the Music

The time has come to face the music. At Mount Sinai we heard the lightning and saw the thunder. Facing the music is like seeing the thunder. It is stepping back from the narrowness of normal sense perception that merely sees sights and hears sounds. Revelation happens beyond the confines of "normal" mind which tries to figure it out and make sense.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Rabbi Shefa Gold

Rabbi Shefa Gold is a leader in ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal and is the director of C-DEEP: Center for Devotional, Energy and Ecstatic Practice in Jemez Springs, New Mexico. Her website is http://rabbishefagold.com/.