16 mai 2006

Rabbi David Mivasair, The Window to Eternity is Always Open, (excerpt)

We, who are so very finite, are each a fragment of the infinite. Each and every one of us lives within limits. We each have a beginning and an end, in both time and space. We can exist only within the bounds of our bodies. Before our time and after it, we simply are not. There is no other way. As did Avraham Avinu, we can be tempted to plead, "I am but dust and ashes." And yet, in our essence, each and every one of us is a spark of the eternal drawn into the temporal, a glimmer of the Ain Sof garbed in the veil of the Sof. Each of us is a tzelem Elohim, an image of the One. Every human being is, as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel taught, a shiviti, a reminder of God's presence.*

Living within our limitedness, as we do in the course of each day, it is easy to forget that we are bounded by our limits, to have no consciousness of what lies beyond them. Our focus can narrow down to the simple here and now, to the tangible, to today, to tomorrow.

However, when the extraordinary occurs — as when a life stops, when the spark of one of us passes from the realm of the finite back to the realm of the Ain Sof, the infinite — the transcendent reaches in to the finite and touches us right where we live. We are brought into an encounter with a greater vision of the nature of our being. We glimpse the All of Being. When the extraordinary occurs, a window opens to eternity.

When only the ordinary occurs — as when life simply goes on in its daily-ness, when light continues to roll away before darkness and darkness before light — eternity is just as present. Within the finite dwells the infinite. The window to eternity is open all the time. As Heschel taught, "Through all the things in the world it is possible to come close to the Source. All things are like traces of God's footprints in a barren desert."

The Jewish sense of spirituality is grounded in the commonplace, in the daily-ness of life. Six days of labour — of the ordinary — precede every Shabbat. May we learn to hold the glimpse of eternity in the here and now of every day. Shiviti YHVH le-negdi tamid.

* A shiviti is a work of Jewish calligraphy, usually intricately written verses of Psalms, that serves as a reminder to maintain God-consciousness always. The word shiviti comes from Psalms 16:8 "Shiviti YHVH le-negdi tamid. — I place God before me always." Shivitis can be seen on the walls of shuls, study halls, and homes throughout the Jewish world.

Shiviti by Betsy Platkin Teutsch, from "Kol Haneshamah"

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