The meaning of life will not arrive in 140 characters or less. Nor will it arrive via a cable news channel or any of the other endless “information” streams to which we are attached and addicted. It will not arrive in sound and thunder or earthquakes. And, paradoxically, it will not arise in the teaching or writing of another person.
It can only arrive from within.
Each of us possesses a nikudat-hayot, a life point. That place is the deepest most essential foundation of the self. It is our truest place, unshadowed and pure. It is also the place of closest contact with the Divine. Though deep inside, it also shines through into the universe and connects us to all that lives.
And yet, we rarely give heed to that life point. Amid all the noise, busyness, and materiality of modern life, we lose contact with that inner true self. This is a source of great sorrow for the world for that place of truth brings in its wake a love and compassion for all living things. Were we more connected to our true self, we would be more connected to all that is.
We read the story of Hannah at Rosh Hashanah in part because she found the courage to connect to her life point and from that place of meaning found words of prayer and hope that led to the birth of a son, Samuel. She found real power and redemption by looking past jealousies, by finding strength through love, and became a model for us of true heart prayer.
This month of Elul, the month preceding the High Holidays, invites study and quiet that reawakens the connection to our pure and holy nikudat-hayot. In partnership with Beth Tzedec Synagogue in Toronto and their Senior Rabbi, Steve Wernick, Rabbi Graff, Ethan Kuniyoshi and I have created a three week “whisper course” on the story of Hannah and its power to transform our lives through honesty, humility, and prayer.
Google developed whisper courses as a way to teach particular topics or modules at people’s pace in an organized communal way that allows people to move at their own schedule and pace. They include regular short emails, a chance to offer feedback, and specific exercises to master new material.
For our course, each participant will receive three short emails during the week with exercises and study material. The exercises will requires just a few minutes each day and with regular practice will deepen our connection to our one life-point. We will also create a forum for feedback so that participants can share their experiences with others. This innovative educational approach creates a personalized daily practice at your own schedule and pace. It offers doable exercises that can have real impact in the context of overscheduled lives and busy job expectations. We will share this course with members of Beth Tzedec as well to give a broader perspective and connect us to the larger Conservative world.
I hope you will join the course! I look forward to this model of virtual study with you.
If you would like to register, click here. You will then receive our welcome email and the first emails the week after Labor Day.
Rabbi David Booth