Eruv shabbos- smart phone stream of consciousness check in so I don’t check out.
This two-thumbbed narrative comes from the fight to take a nap funk! I’m in nostalgic procrastination mode as I am getting ready to return to NY soon.
I have something completely irrelevant yet super important to note, and that is I had no idea I would be roughing it in order to learn torah… seriously, I had the craziest lessons in materialism presented to me here in eretz Yisrael. .. firstly, packing for a Israel does not mean you should pack like you are going to the beach… get your warm coats, wool socks, and scarves out…like wise, good luck figuring out how to dress knowing at high noon, on aa sunshiney day you will melt, but by 5 you will curl into a ball and embrace yourself while exhaling your visible -cold-breath… the streets will destroy your shoes , so either get excited to walk on ancient stones , invest in a solid pair of foot gear, or get ready to have the soles of your shoes attack your heels… customer service , no such thing … moving right along I thought I had found my groove with G-D and the material world when I found myself basically homeless, with all of my clothes hidden under neath not so ancient cement and plaster …that’s a story to be told of itself : the day I came home and my things were destroyed… it turned out to be G-D s grace and driving force to get me to commit to seminary and the frum community.
Moving right along in my two thumbed digital diary …
What started off as a “I’m not sure who I am, so I’ll go on a spiritual adventure” , turned into “I never want to leave Tsfat”. I’m currently in a seminary bubble filled with multi cultural young women, Torah scholars and teachers that speak the same language as my elders.
I am a self proclaimed free style – prayer warrior, and I just love knowing that G-D is in charge. When I pray , I pray with all of my might that G should take my will… and so Gs will be done! Here I am, a Jewish woman, learning from the same Jewish texts, my elders, elders learned from.
Honestly, my yoga practice played a vital role in my thriving relationship with the G of my understanding, prayer & meditation.
I left the US some what naive and impressionable and clear that I had to create space for healing. I had no idea how long I would extend my stay for, what it was that I was looking for either ? Would i travel far and wide? Would i plant roots? Would i finally get into a relationship with Myself? I definitely already found G… I saw G, in the birth room. I felt G-Ds grace , and I can testify to the miracles around me… so in hindsight … I’m a little shocked yet not surprised that I had almost no plan , no goals , and an unbelievable amount of courage to just close up shop, and hit the road…
The first two weeks in Israel were to be occupied with a controlled itinerary which included Jewish learning in a Torah observant community. I still remember the feeling of that program coming to an end, and asking G, “that was it, …, now what? “! In a more typical expression of myself I feel like I should have had anxiety. . . but I really had was a desire to build a relationship with Torah and myself as a Jewish woman.
I was kinda in denial about the Torah observant thang… still am… I’m not however one to deny this is the path of my elders, and their truth, and that connectivity makes me feel so alive !
There were brief moments in my journey where I had visited sensations of shame for having cultivated a yogic-lifestyle… words like “tuma” & “idol worship” were thrown around always with a very heavy quality of disaproval… maybe even at times disgust and shock… I resolved early on that learning Torah will have to be new philosophy and path of yoga.. and my mat time… my physical practice that I’ve been missing got replaced with keeping Shabbos…
After I extended my stay I took as many local (Jerusalem) classes as possible, explored seminaries, and ate with religious folks too… each of my Jewish peers all had Torah as a common denominator but a very different way of expressing it…
I’m still confused and processing all that I’ve witnessed btw… had no idea there were so many varieties of Jewish communities !!
At some point i had I felt tremendous subtle pressure to pick a path … at first i thought teshuva meant a deeper commitment to spiritual principles in accordance with the call of Gds will. I thought it was a very deep commitment to repair my wrong doings in this lifetime, and a resolve of karmic duty from lifetimes passed. I thought it meant embracing lifestyle choices such as laws of purity, modesty , and kashrut… come to find out choice and kaw are quite a cobtradiction..i interpreted these “mitzvos” through my yogic lense, and so I felt so free to choose to relate to G in these parameters. All the while contemplating and witnessing the Torah manifest all all round me, I maintain the prayer that G brings me teachers with a bright light, that are kind, and truthful… so in between moments where I am in the presence of Holy people with the brightest lights I get to hear from people who are monitoring my behavior. “Libe Rivka, pull down your sleeves…”, almost sent me over the edge the other day. I wanted to unleash all of my feelings of rebellion, inadequacies, confusion and yoga filled contentment in a ” F.u., mind your own business and look that way “.
Now in this moment, with nostalgia in my heart and a sense of contentment , I’ve never ever looked forward to anything in my life perhaps more than I do, Shabbos.
I’ll tell you what made Torah observant life an attractive quest for me once I got here- the religious Jewish folks pray , a lot.
We pray as soon as we wake up, before we zzz,Before a sip of water, after the restroom, at times of seeing a rainbow , if it’s been more than thirty days since we’ve seen each other , for healing, to give thanks, to give the honor to G etc.. on top of which the Jewish ppl G placed on my path love to give out blessings to eachither in between all of the other prayer filled moments. I hope from this narrative I am relaying the sensation of a higher consciousness group of beautiful people. The freestyle warrior in me met my match!
So it’s the higher consciousness of prayer warriors that attracted me to seminary in the end. . . I have barely scratched the surface of learning how to pray in a formal (religious) manor in conjunction with our calendar and times of day which is the ironic part.
If could summarize what I’ve learned so far , through the lense of Torah I have no idea what to say. I’m tempted to place emphasis on the healing nature of guarding the law in terms of modesty , and keeping kosher but I think that will actually have more impact if I keep that between me and my gratitude with G.
So what I will say is that when I left the states I thought I had answered the daunting “who am I”- coming of age question when I found myself saturated in all-things-yoga. It was comforting and empowering to declare ” I am a student of yoga”… Short hand jargon meets globalization and I’ve even declared I’m a “yogi”… yoga for me really truly meant a way to relate to G… a way to honor my vehicle, my temple to serve G, to reconnect to myself so I can re-enter the physical world … my mat became my own personal metaphor … I wanted to study the vedas in depth , and become versed in the yoga sutras. I really drew inspiration, meaning and made choices based on yogic-philosophy… I learned early (tha ks to my great teaxhers ) not to get distracted by the yoga postures , not to aspire toward mastery of poses, or to look to reap benefits from the practice, but to practice, for practice sake.
My yoga practice gave me a moral and ethical compass to thrive in my twenties. . . With a series of emotionally invigorating circumstances happening one after the next I felt a yearning to travel. I suspect when I get back to NY, I’ll remember why I left with more convinction… I also suspect I’ll be walking into a society covered in a thick veil of illusion.
When I’m completely comfy in my skin it is quite easy for my to sense How G is working in my life. Thank G, for G, that with or without a relationship with Torah , I know there is a power grater than myself at work.