Here is our weekly "5-Point Parasha", a short list of what we are enjoying or pondering, as it relates to life and Torah.
Rabbi Schachar shares the purpose of life in a nutshell based on this week's parasha:
At the beginning of the parasha (Bamidbar/Numbers 13:2), G!d instructs Moshe Rabenu to send people to scout the land of Canaan. The Hebrew word for "to scout"is וְיָתֻ֨רוּ֙ . The Chasidic Master, Kedushat Levi, Rabbi Levi Itzchak of Berditchev, says that this word actually relates to the word, "Torah". Moshe sent the men out to infuse Canaan with Torah! Our life purpose, similarly, is to spread, Torah, wisdom, spirituality into the world.
Rabbi Schachar shares another Chasidic take on the purpose of life:
My family was once connected to the Radomsker Rebbe. The Radomsker says that the Hebrew word for "to scout" comes from the word, התרה, meaning, "to release". Moshe sent the people to release the captive holy sparks in the Land of Canaan. In this understanding, our life purpose is to find ways of releasing all the holy sparks in the world.
Cantor Heather shares what music she is listening and invites you to listen too:
Here are a couple versions of Ahavat Olam that I have been listening to on Spotify. I would love to know what people think of them:
A teaching on b-mitzvahs from our very special guest this upcoming week, prolific author, Reb Goldie Milgrom:
"Jewish Approaches to Vision Quest"
What is Hitbodedut?
Vision quest many have heard about as a Native American tradition, it is also an ancient part of Jewish practice, documented in the Bible. Again and again the primary metaphor of Moses’ adult life is that of climbing a mountain in order to speak his heart and receive the insight and guidance he needed to sustain a meaningful life for the people in his charge. The importance of being able to reach out beyond yourself in this way, to pour out your soul and be able to listen for guidance is something youth deserve to experience and know how to do.
What Moses did, hitbodedut, "making oneself alone" with G*d, is an important practice. Ideally experienced out in nature, Hassidic lore records teachings of how hitbodedut can be done inwardly, even on a crowded subway car.
I recommend beginning in a nice private spot in nature where a person need not be at all self conscious. For a B-mitzvah student, a camping trip with family or peers and teachers is a good launching ground. It is possible to get lost out there, so be sure to read up on safety considerations.
Hitbodedut is simple to do. Begin to speak out loud as though heard. Let the words pour out, any content is acceptable, no holds barred. You can inveigh, praise, plead, and muse. The major thing is not to stop at all.
If a dry spell comes, not words seem to be available, just make sounds until the next thing that needs to be said arrives. And when nothing more can possibly come, and yet does, keep going, until it is all out there, spoken.
Now simply, wait, walk if you like, and listen, look, and notice the hint, clarification or full-blown knowing that tends to come.
For some, what is said and heard will feel to private to share. For others, debriefing within a group or with a mentor will be very helpful. Celebrate the return of the youth from their hitbodedut with a spontaneous blessing from your heart.
Excerpted from Reclaiming Bar/Bat Mitzvah as a Spiritual Rite
See her great website reclaimingjudaism.org
Since Reb Goldie will be speaking about her new anthology of stories about Reb Zalman, here is a quote of his to ponder:
“The awareness that we stand in the presence of the Living God is one of the most important realizations we can install in our operative consciousness. God is always present. The question is, how present are we? We want to stand in that Presence without opacity. Our work is to penetrate, in meditation and in action, to the very heart of being nokhach penei ha-Shem (Lamentations 2:19), of being truly present before God.” ― Rabbi Zalman Shachter-Shalomi, Davening: A Guide to Meaningful Jewish Prayer