There are those who want to learn a new meditation each day instead of learning a new approach to the same meditation. When we do this, we create a special compartment in our mind where we and Hashem meet. Then, together, we work to touch one another. The greatest Rabbi of the Talmud was Rabbi Akibah. He was also the greatest mystic of his time. But did you know that even though Rabbi Akiba was a handsome man, he was completely illiterate in Judaism. He couldn’t read the Hebrew alphabet. He didn’t know any Bible stories.
There are those who want to learn a new meditation each day instead of learning a new approach to the same meditation. When we do this, we create a special compartment in our mind where we and Hashem meet. Then, together, we work to touch one another.Rabbi Douglas Goldhamer
One day, a shepherd asked him, “When do you do your meditations? In the morning or the evening? When do you do your kavannot?”
Akibah said, “What is a meditation? What is kavannot?” He was 40 years old at that time. He fell in love with a beautiful wealthy man’s daughter who said, “I can’t marry you unless you become a scholar.”
Akibah went to the well. The well was like a singles’ bar. It was the watering hole where not only camels could satisfy their thirst, but so could men, pondering which girl they would marry. Jugs of wine were available to be purchased, at the local watering hole.
Anyway, Akibah went to the watering hole of Lod, and he saw a huge rock, with a large indentation. “Who carved this rock?” And then he realized, “If water can cut through a rock, then the teachings of the Torah and its sacred meditations can cut through my mind.”
We don’t need to constantly learn new meditations; we just need to take a NEW APPROACH to the same meditation. This will bring us even deeper insight, just like the indentation in the rock in Lod.
Twice a month, on the second and fourth Saturdays, at Congregation Bene Shalom, we have Kabbalistic Shabbat Meditation services via Zoom and YouTube. I am always studying and translating different Hebrew texts so that I can share new meditations. Charlene Clinkman (Brooks) one of our Hebrew Seminary students, and the cantorial soloist of Congregation Bene Shalom, has repeatedly said to me, “Don’t keep introducing new meditations. We need to go over the meditations we have learned. It is very important that we know well the meditations you have already taught us.” After learning this story about Rabbi Akibah, I have to admit that Charlene is right. We don’t always need to learn something new – we just need to look at things with a new perspective.
With that in mind, I invite you to join us at our next Kabbalistic Shabbat Meditation service, where we will go over some important meditations, that I think we need to look at with fresh eyes. And, I invite you to join me on June 22, when I will give a Zoom lecture, sponsored by Hebrew Seminary, discussing the importance of “Vibrations: Communicating with the Angels.”
More information here.
Rabbi Dr. Douglas Goldhamer