Category Archives: Brachot

The Spiritual Significance of the Body

The body is the vehicle for the soul… It houses the awareness of the soul.  Without the body the awareness/the soul would remain ephemeral, it would remain as merely a dis-embodied “spirit” trapped in the “spirit world”.  The body is what allows the soul, spirit, and G!d to be manifest on Earth in materiality.  It is in fact the entire purpose of creation… And as humans (and especially as Jews) it is our role/job to help actualize this manifestation, to be co-creators at this point in the process of creation.

We do this by grounding our spiritual awareness’ in our bodies, and this is the point of wrapping t’phillin, of doing an yoga asana practice, of blessing food before and after eating it, of washing our hands in the morning (n’telat yadaim), of wearing tzitzit and so on.  The main point: Unite the soul with the body.

When the two seemingly opposite poles of heaven and earth, soul and body come together there is an indescribable enlightenment and bliss which occurs and this is the purpose of creation.

The Gift of a Red Light

How many of us when we come to a red light while driving in our cars get annoyed at having to stop?  I for one have been among that group for many years, and have just begun to realize why.

With the help of a friend I recently came to notice that I get visibly annoyed when I come to a red light while driving my car.  I have this burning desire while driving to not have to stop, and when I am forced to… it pisses me off.  This friend helped me see that instead of getting mad, I can use this moment as a time to connect with G!d and bless all the people around me.  For some reason, in that moment her words got through and literally my vision of the outside world changed, my soul became awakened, and became the driver of my body-vehicle which was driving this car-vehicle.  In that moment my vision expanded, became much wider, and I was able to truly send love and blessings to all the people around me.  After that I was actually looking forward to the next red light and gave so much thanks when it came because it brought, again, the ability to stop and connect with G!d and send love and blessings to all the people around me.

This deep teaching showed me how our “triggers” – the things that get us annoyed, or cause us to “react” in any way – can most powerfully serve as our greatest tools for awakening and self transformation… And the bigger the trigger, the bigger the transformation.

But this also brought about another understanding… That actually  it’s this society and culture based on productivity, on moving forward, and not on stopping which causes the annoyance at having to stop.  Our whole psyche is imbued with the imperative, the directive, to continue moving forward, and it’s not just coming from our culture, it’s a deeply programmed biological and evolutionary response of nature.  The nature of evolution is to move forward, to progress, and this has been strongly – and most of the time unconsciously – embraced by our culture and society… In so much that there is actually a physical aversion to stopping.

But stopping is exactly what is needed to tap into the spiritual dimension of life, to feel the beauty and amazement of existence… Stop and smell the roses.  Stopping is also the essence of meditation.  when we stop we have a chance to remember what we are and where we came from, and to live and act from there, instead of from the biologically mechanical imperatives we are driven by throughout our fast paced, “non-stop” day.

This also happens to be the essence of most – or even all –  the Jewish practices, mitzvot/halachot, they are systematically set up as times to stop and remember Source, to remember our selves, our divine nature.

So, next time you’re stopped at a red light, or waiting in a line at the post office, or suddenly get triggered by something, see if you can use it as a chance to stop and remember G!d, to remember that you are a beautiful divine soul, surrounded by love and other beautiful divine souls.  It’s a hell of a good practice : )