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On Inspiration

On Inspiration

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This past Monday morning I awoke, like every day, except that on this morning I was uninspired.

I worked my way through my regular schedule, which I often find rich with surprise and challenge, with bored disinterest. It all seemed tedious, even irrelevant.

I searched for the meaning and inspiration that I usually associate with the multi-faceted obligations of my life, but I found none. It had been replaced with a sea of monotony and purposelessness, a scuttle of activity with little meaning or direction.

The rush-hour of getting the kids clothed, breakfasted, equipped with brown-bagged lunches and out the front door to their honking carpools was over. I now found a moment to drink in the blandness in my mind and savor its dullness over a cup of steaming coffee. Even its freshly percolated aroma, usually so rich, this morning smelled and tasted unstriking.

Nor did the day progress any better.

I tried to pray passionately, to ask You for guidance and direction, to help me find the meaning that I lacked. I even attempted to complain to You about all the suffering and hardship in Your world which the newspapers bombard us with daily. I tried to muster some emotion, if not gratitude then at least anger, pain or frustration. Something. Anything. But nothing came. Instead, the words came out automatically, in a monotone, as tasteless as my morning coffee had been.

At the office I went through the regular motions, taking care of the paper work, updating the data on the computer, returning phone calls, organizing upcoming adult educational programs and scheduling my calendar. But it was all without emotion, without passion. I whiled away the hours, with a growing restlessness, looking forward to be back at home.

I drove the short distance from my office back home. Trying to drown the thoughts in my mind, I played my favorite Jewish music cassette loudly. It sang Your praise, the sweetness of Your ways, our gratitude to You. But as loud as it played, my mind screamed its dissent even louder. Why? Why were life's challenges so difficult? Why was there so much pain? What was the purpose of it all? Are You really enjoying watching us constantly repeat our blunders only to face them yet again? Isn't there a better way?

I knew that my soul was sad that Monday. I knew that she was hurting. Yet I also knew that I couldn't reach her, caress her or provide her with the balm of spiritual nourishment that she so desperately craved.

My soul was imprisoned behind a thick wall of absolute, complete, dispassionate, uninspiring apathy.

For a few moments that sunny afternoon, I thought that I had almost grabbed a hold of her. For a few quiet moments, as my youngest child sat tenderly on my lap and I read to him his favorite stories, I smelled sweetness in the air. Squatting on my knees, side by side him on the bare wood floor as we built an elaborate structure of the Beit Hamikdash (the Holy Temple) with his colorful wooden blocks, I thought that I had tasted some meaning.

But to my disappointment, it was elusive and disappeared again as the regular routine resumed.

Nor did my mood improve when I remembered that today was Monday and I was slated to deliver my weekly Monday night Torah class to the regular crowd. The class had grown, and some fifty or sixty women attended. They looked to this class for their weekly inspiration, their connection to You and to spirituality. How, I wondered, would I ever bring them inspiration, when I couldn't find any myself?

Evening rolled around. I was physically exhausted, but even more so emotionally and spiritually. All I wanted was to curl up in my bed and allow sleep to overtake me, to stop my mind's incessant thoughts and hope to awaken to a more rewarding tomorrow.

Instead, dutifully, I put on a fresh gloss of lipstick, ran a brush through my coif and grabbed a smartly matching blazer as I grudgingly headed out the door.

Entering the large room, I dreaded being there. Of course a welcoming smile was plastered over my face, but within was desolation.

To my surprise, the class progressed well. We delved into the source texts and applied its lessons to our lives. The questions from the audience were interesting. Somehow, my mouth, tongue and mind worked in partnership and found the right words and resources, and the participants left, to my relief, enlightened and inspired.

As I once again opened the front door of my home, I wondered at the change of my mood. What had happened? What had "reconnected" me? At what moment did inspiration replace apathy?

I knew it had not been the words that I had said, for there was nothing novel about them. I was certain, too, that it was not the material covered, as that too, was very familiar to me. And though the participant's questions were challenging and their comments engaging, they did not divulge any new revelation or perspective.

So what was it, that during the day I was unable to reach, with my prayers, Torah learning or my daily rituals and routines, that this room, surrounded by these women unlocked?

Pondering these thoughts, I realized that though there was nothing novel in what I had said, I was forced, due to the circumstances, to say it passionately. Surrounded by those women, looking to me for inspiration, I was forced to perform a drama, to act out an inspiration, to find a meaning and a purpose that I hadn't perceived.

And as I allowed myself to act out this inspiration, I surprised myself by actually feeling it. The act became experienced; the passion became real. And, in the process, the connection was established.


I learned something essential about inspiration on that bland and uninspirational Monday.

Sit back and wait for the inspiration to surface, as one awaits the sun to peak through the dense fog on a cloudy day, and you won't find it.

Allow yourself to pursue it, to act it and to experience it, and it will emerge.

Find something that you can act passionately for, and you will discover it. Suddenly, the walls of apathy will crumble as you come into contact with the true inner depths of yourself.

Listen intently to the voice that emerges. You may even hear your own soul speaking.

Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.
Artwork by Sarah Kranz.
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Anonymous Brooklyn March 4, 2012

You have really touched me Thank you Reply

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