Some of you may know that I also write a music blog. Hopefully you’ve had a chance to check it out… Go to Marc’s Muse. The gist of it is the beauty and power of music and what it means to me… and then, hopefully, what it means for you. Music is something that connects us, and it can come from anywhere. Think about the bliss and energy of the actual music of a service or the metaphorical music in a prayer. The spiritual power it has is breathtaking and important.
I’ll bring it all together in a moment.
I have been listening to mp3s by Rabbi Denbo (The Six Constant Mitzvahs), and The 48 Ways by Rabbi Noah Weinberg, Of Blessed Memory. Powerful, powerful stuff. And it all stems from Torah and the Pirkei Avos, which could and should also be called the “Lessons” of our Fathers!
I would say this to any atheists, who say that living a good life is obvious and does not require a religion to make that happen… Read these works, delve in and really take in what they are saying… and realize that it is Judaism that is showing us a great, practical way to live life to its fullest.
We all need guides and guidelines, teachers and teachings… Many of would be lost without a mentor and a path lit up… There will be forks and obstacles, but the lessons we learn make it something we can navigate and get through. It is Judaism that is opening up this amazing, spiritual and powerful way for me to live.
“So often times it happens, that we live our lives in chains
And we never even know we have the key.”
“Already Gone” (Performed by the Eagles, written by Jack Tempchin and Robb Strandlund)
Pirkei Avos, Chapter One, Number Six
“Yehoshua ben Perachyah says: Accept a teacher upon yourself, acquire a friend for yourself, and judge everyone favorably.”
What is the key to freeing ourselves from our own chains? Knowledge… friendship… kindness. Learn and move forward, have friends and do the right thing. The chains will be broken and behind us.
“Just remember this my girl when you look up in the sky
You can see the stars and still not see the light, that’s right.”
I love that both sets of lyrics can be looked at through a very Jewish lens.
How often have we looked up at the sky and taken the stars for granted? Maybe noticed a constellation, but otherwise were not impressed… not in awe… not fully aware of the miracles that those tiny points of light actually are?
Last night I had a break through… and not to get all mushy, but, because this blog is about being honest and open, I will tell you this. I arrived home last night, after seeing Matilda at the Ahmanson (brilliant and moving, by the way)…
I got out of my car, looked up the fully lit sky and took in as many stars as I could. Really took them in. Saw them as if for the first time… I saw them with my heart and my soul and my entire mind… Tears started to well up, and I simply said “You did this… Look at what you made… Echad (One)… Echad…”
It was Rabbi Denbo who said to make sure we stop daily, at every Mezuzah and say “Echad.” Thank you for that. It is a good and very important thing to do and I am trying to make it a habit. I am really trying to stop and take the time to see Hashem in everything.
It was Rabbi Weinberg, OBM who discusses in Way #5, B’aima, the power of awe.
“When we meditate on the simple beauty of life, we are lifted, connected, transported out of ourselves.”
“For just a moment, stand in awe. See everything in the dimension that it really is, not the mundane nature that we’re used to. Try it one time. This will re-tune you into the awesome power of living.”
He says in Way #8, B’simcha… Live with joy.
“Become conscious of the beauty of every moment. Focus on your underlying natural state of joy, even amidst the mundane issues of daily life.”
A deep and elevated way to live… not as easy as it seems, but oh so worthwhile. He’s to living with joy… and here’s to unlocking ourselves from the chains that bind us, running free, celebrating life, and taking the time to STOP AND SEE AND SMELL THE ROSES, and to LOOK UP AT THE STARS and REALLY SEE THE LIGHT… REALLY SEE HASHEM. Echad… Echad…