A ladder… an anchor… strapping in. Hashem, Community, and Connection and Prayer. All metaphors, and all ways Judaism keeps us on the path and connected to ourselves and to Hashem. Sulam Yaakov is the ladder leading to heaven that was in one of Jacob’s dreams. While the goal is to always ascend, sometimes all we can do is simply hang on. Letting go can be catastrophic. The smallest step forward is still a step forward. And so is two steps up and one step back.
While things may look very different in modern times, the ultimate goals and definitions are the same. Love… connection… living a full and fulfilled life. Hashem does not want us falling, Hashem does not want us letting go, and while there my be tests and challenges along the path, the lessons learned are the things we need to know to move forward, become stronger and closer to G-d and to ourselves.
Commit to action. Commit to moving forward and commit to holding on to that ladder. Know that you are supported by Hashem, and whatever it is that keeps you moving forward. Sometimes clarity comes later and not in the midst of the storm. Sometimes you may see only clouds, fogs, confusion. Hold tightly to who you truly are and to your connection with Hashem. And remember this quote someone sent me today:
“Not all storms come to disrupt your life. Some come to clear your path.”
– Unknown And then there is an anchor, that heavy metallic object that keeps a ship in place, despite crashing waves and storms. For me, the anchor of Judaism is community. I love and adore the people I have met through my JMI Trip, AISH LA, Community Shul and Chabad, especially Chabad of West Hills. If you do not have this in your life, I cannot tell you the difference it makes. To know there are people in your life who have your back, who welcome you with open arms no matter where you are financially, religiously, etc. Mensch Nights, Torah and Beers, JLI Classes and Shabbat and holiday services anchor me to Judaism, of course… but also literally set my soul ablaze. My mind and heart and soul all come together and are inspired. And this leads me to…I never wrapped before my trip to Israel, other then when it was forced on me. Now I try to do it every morning, and that is thanks to my friend Jordan, who explained how amazing it was to start each day by bringing your heart literally together with your brain. By strapping in, by binding myself, by physically connecting my head and my heart, I can start the day with purpose and a better chance of success. The prayers that go along with this and the action itself force me to express Gratitude and Humility and there is immense power in this.
A strong and mighty hand can also be found in kindness and gentleness. A strong hand does not have to crush to be powerful. A strong hand does not have to destroy to be mighty. In fact, in certain martial arts it is the opposite… an open hand is what you need. And the word Karate means empty hand.
When your hand is open it can be filled with all that G-d has to give you, including the hand of another. So open your head, open your heart, open your soul, and open your hand. The world these days is spinning… and it is an open hand that allows us to grab on to the ladder and G-d, the anchor and community, and the Tefillin, and Siddur, and to one another.