In his book 7 Traits, Rabbi Shalom Denbo discusses something I had never really thought about. When we create a child and bring them into the world, we do so knowing they are going to die. We obviously hope they have a long, happy, and healthy life and that we do not ever have to witness their passing, but the idea is that life means death. It is inevitable.So the key then becomes finding things that are worth both living and dying for… and it is this list that gives our lives meaning. In fact, it is what defines our lives and makes them whole, satisfying and fulfilling.
Again, going with the no coincidence in life anthem, this book is coming to me at the same time I am taking the JLI course From Worrier To Warrior, and the messages go so wonderfully hand in hand. And yes, the 7 Traits book has been on my nightstand for way too long, but clearly NOW is when I needed it.
It is far too easy to simply exist in the world and not truly and fully live. What I have realized is just how much of a beautiful guide for living Judaism really is. Again, I wish I knew so much of this sooner, but it is coming to me now, and NOW is all we have. Judaism speaks so much to mindfulness and present moment awareness, and so I will do my very best with it.
In fact, not to boast about Judaism… and after all, most of the readers of this blog probably already know this and I am preaching to the High Holidays Choir… but for me, it has been fascinating to learn just how much Judaism has contributed to so many things we take for granted… the law, justice, mindfulness, mediation, and that amazing, essential, and insightful guide for living we call the Torah. It starts with the Torah, Kabbalah, Pirkei Avos and now, for me, a deeper exploration of The Tanya. The lessons I am learning are life defining. I can only hope I truly learn them and fiercely put them into action.
At the end of Chapter One, Denbo gives us tools we need to set ourselves up for a productive life, and the specific tools on how to define each and every day. He says it is important to see the whole mountain and have that as your goal, but we MUST know how to take the climb one step at a time. For him CLARITY is essential, which is why that final section is entitled “Clarity Or Death.” My vow is to answer those questions and use the daily guide each and every day.
Another favorite author of mine is Rabbi Tzvi Freeman. In “Man As Verb: The Truth About The Tanya” he writes that the essential question we all must ask ourselves is WHERE AM I? And to be more accurate, WHERE AM I RIGHT NOW? This speaks directly to mindfulness and total self-awareness. He stresses how important it is to continually ask: “What am I doing, speaking and thinking right now?”
He also echoes Denbo’s teaching (courtesy of Rabbi Noah Weinberg OBM) that the world was created for us, each of us, and therefore we are all special and needed. Tzvi continues by saying that if we want to find our “essential self” we need to do something that “will bring some light into the world.” So when you want to define who you are and give your life meaning, it is not who you are, or what you are, but where you are… It is learning more Torah and Mitzvah and putting that knowledge into action… For life is in the doing!