As our hemisphere spins into summer, another school year comes to a close and our community ventures off to the watering holes that surround new york city, I am yearning for the quiet of summer hibernation, turning down the rabbinic output a bit, to pursue silence, darkness, creativity, and the little ecstasies that make a summer. I hope your summer will be filled with all of these!
But as I perused the wisdom library this week, I realized upon a major blunder that I enacted!
Two years ago we studied language, our centerpiece - wilderness is nothing but language. We studied cries and screams and words, poems songs and prophecies, all the vocal utterances that can emerge from a human mouth. We saw ourselves as wildernesses that have mouths capable of giving expression to the deep mystery within us, for the sake of communion and beauty.
It turns out I mistranslated the entire theme! In the language of our ancestors, dibur, yes it means language, but it's language of the highest expression, language that's true and good, spoken in kindness, received by mighty ears. That kind of language is called prayer. It should have been ... wilderness is nothing but prayer. The generation of the wilderness didn't even have to build their tabernacle, they spoke-prayed it into existence.
Summer should be filled with devotions that we understand as prayers. To define the old word, a prayer is any activity marked by the following characteristics: 1) It tunes your being like a cello, to greater balance. 2) It situates you within the wide context of humanity and the stars. 3) It's creative, mirroring the creation acts of Genesis, let there be ... 4) There are words of conversation and learning that lift and rise and steal you away from what you think you are like a butterfly entering exiting a cocoon, only your transformation will be less visually apparent. In the language of Rumi, there are ten thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
Bon Voyage butterflies. Enjoy the wilderness cocoons.
Rabbi Zach Fredman