One of my favorite scenes in one of my favorite movies, City Slickers… is where Curly tells Mitch that the secret to life is “One thing, just one thing.”
In the scene and in this photo he has a cigarette dangling from his mouth… Not ideal, but hey, he was a cowboy… and he does use a bad word… (Sorry, but see the previous note)…
BUT… the idea of ONE is essential to Judaism, on so many levels… and so is living in the right way.
I used this image back in August of last year, when I said that finding that one thing was the path that all of us are on. I still believe that… that we each have our our own journey… our own purpose… but let me continue to look at the idea of ONE in a new way.
When it all comes down to it, living like a Mensch… always doing the right thing is a pretty darn good guideline. That ONE thing will keep you on the path, the right path, and make life productive and worthwhile. Rabbi Shlomo Bistritzky stressed the importance of this idea… above and beyond anything else… and it really hit me. It just made sense and is one of the things we actually have control over.
To quote from the utterly brilliant song “Wait For It,” sung by Leslie Odom, Jr. (Aaron Burr) in the musical Hamilton:
“I am the one thing in life I can control.
I am inimitable, I am an original.”
We have but ONE life. ONE.
What he was saying was very much where I am right now in life… Trying to find my connection and spirituality, and not dismissing any area where this might come from. He told us not to be afraid of the secular world, for there are some amazing ideas coming from it… and while they might not mention Hashem or Judaism, when you hear them describe what they are doing and saying, you realize very quickly that it is, in fact, coming from Torah or Kabbalah.
One source… ONE.
It is quite remarkable, actually… and empowering. The meditation and techniques I have discovered through Buddhist teaching is allowing my Tefillah to be more potent and focused.
Where many “transformational” and “Self-improvement” books and speakers will say “use what you have” and “turn your negatives into positives…” Rabbi Katz said that Torah and Kabbalah teach us that “Every personal exile has a lesson and a gift that expands who you are.”
They are all saying the same thing… and so much of it comes from Torah… from the original… from the source. That is amazing and eye-opening. Torah is not only the Book of Life… but the book on how to LIVE LIFE!
He said somethings that people might take as blasphemous (his words), like… “There is a Kabbalistic explanation of Atheism and that Atheism will come to the world to purify faith.”
To me that was so clear and logical… it was that Atheists and many scientists will explain things using formulas and data and never once mention G-d… and yet, they are saying the same thing. Science is evolving and changing… science still has mysteries and the unexplained… And science is actually looking to religion and especially Judaism to get a better understanding of science. When they talk and tell you why this does that… and why this happens… they are talking about G-d.
Rabbi Katz told us about Dr. William Bengston, a non-Jewish, Energy Healer… And as he did, we realized that what Bengston is essentially doing… is prayer. Science may call it something else… and it does… Anomalous Healing Technique… but there is no denying that it is the very definition and action of Tefillah.
Like so many of the great Tzadiks (Tzadikim), Bengston is quieting his mind, connecting to the source, and coming out with an intention to heal a person or the world… giving that energy over to someone else.
We put our hands on people to heal them, just as we put our hands on our children to bless them every Shabbat.
That is Judaism, and that is one beautiful and wonderful way to live, every day of your life.
The sources of information and technique may be many… but the idea is the same… the idea is ONE.
My friend Bob Blinder said something rather profound last night… in regards to the current Parsha, and Hashem forgiving the Israelites as they almost immediately broke his second commandment and danced around the Golden Calf.
We must forgive those around us… family and friends… in exactly the same way we want G-d to forgive us. What we give is what we get… so we must be specific and kind and do the right thing.
Let us have good thoughts… and use the power of our minds for good actions. Let us get to this realization through prayer and deed. Let us meditate on it… literally.
I cannot recommend mediating enough. I do it either before or after my morning prayers, and both feed into the other in such an amazing way.
By clearing our minds and our chatter, we can connect more directly to the Source… to the One… to Hashem… and thus connect to everything.
He is one… he is everything… and everything is ONE.
We are one… we are the world… and the entire world… Hashem… is within all of us.