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Are you going through the motions?
This people draw near to me, and with their mouths and their lips they honor Me,
but their hearts are far from Me. Isaiah, 29:13
How do you begin to get close to the Divine? Ours is a physical world, weighted by our surroundings and the constant pull of the rational, logical, and practical. There are the skeptics out there for sure, for whom another reality, based on the spiritual, just doesn’t exist. What we see is what is.
But there are those of us who have a deeper knowledge, an inner knowing of a connection we just can’t explain. Wisdom should not be confused with knowledge. Judaism makes distinctions between the different types of ‘knowing’ for a reason. There are many facets to every aspect of our lives, and as our Sages remind us, acknowledging that we live in paradox opens us up to the experience of awe.
But all this doesn’t make connecting any easier.
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So, how do we put our hearts in a place that can be close to the One?
For starters, it helps to jettison preconceived notions of what we call “prayer” which itself, is a horrid word. It distances. It’s formal. It’s pretty dry. The Hebrew word for prayer, tefillah, even sounds melodic. That word though, does not occur in the entire Five Books of Moses [the chumash]. We first see the word tefillah appear in the prophets and psalms. Tefillah emanates from the verb l’hitpallel which is a reflexive verb…meaning that the self is engaged in the process. You are an active part of it.
The verses from Isaiah state this pretty clearly…if you’re not in it, don’t bother. If your heart is not part of communicating with Me, Hashem, no one is fooled. Not even you.
So, asking the question again, how do you begin making sure your heart is open to this experience? I doubt that you can begin by saying someone else’s words. You have to use your own words, in private, and at a time when you are moved.
You won’t ever know the feeling…the feeling of connecting on a deeper level with a truth that transcends all, unless you experiment a bit.
Be bold. Be counter-cultural. Be the one who takes the leap into new territory.
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