How B’shert that I’ve been assigned Safed (pronounced Tzfat) for my blog entry; it’s the ancient center of Jewish mysticism and spirituality. I’d just finished a series of Kabbalah classes a few days before our trip to Israel and was very excited to compare what I’ve learned with the place where it all began in the 16th century, supposedly as a revelation from G-d. Rabbi Yitzhak Luria has been remembered as the founder of Lurianic Kabbalah. As our visit began, I found out from Rabbi Hart that this same person is recognized as a member in Mendy’s family tree! More B’shert stuff, though in the study of Kabbalah, there are no coincidences but instead all is really part of G-d’s plan.
Our first stop was the Ashkenazi HaAri Synagogue, a perfect setting to learn about the origins of tikkun olam from the Kabbalists’ point of view, as well as its amazing story of survival from damaging earthquakes and during the War of Independence. This, in combination with the myriad of artisans whose shops line the streets and who create original Judaica of all sorts, including jewelry, paintings, sculpture, and religious items such as micro calligraphy pieces depicting portions of the Torah — all create a place of beauty and holiness at the same time. It is truly magical and transforming.
One last thought to share from Kabbalah wisdom, as found in the ZOHAR, the collected commentaries on the Torah and the central writing of the Kabbalah teachings. Though very difficult to decipher meaning from the original Aramaic text, one can find many practical aspects that effectively can be applied to daily living. Here’s one such idea: how might your life be different if in a stressful moment or a difficult conversation you made the conscious choice to reflect on the situation instead of reacting to it? This concept sounds deceptively simple, but in the heat of the moment is certainly not easy to do. But in making the effort, our sages tell us, we are in no small measure helping to repair the world (tikkun olam), by repairing ourselves one thought at a time. Try it on and see if it works for you! Shalom
Irene and Michael