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To Light A Spark

Waking Up

June 21, 2009

Every now and then, when my mind is open and lazy enough, I am suddenly struck by what an incredible thing a life is. How much energy has been expended in me, around me and because of me—because of my existence. And then, to think that currently there are something like six billion people existing with similar energies floating around them, who burst into this world from a womb and changed everything around them from then on.

What surprises me further, in these moments, is that we are not constantly blown away by this fact, and the simple miraculousness of it all in the first place. That we could have a world like ours exist at all is such a miracle that I am amazed even G‑d was able to pull it off.

Then, just as quickly as this thought enters my mind, it is gone. Suddenly, I am annoyed again by children who sit behind me in the airplane. I look at a mountain in Arizona and think, "Well, that is just a piece of dirt, isn't it?" The world is suddenly a statistic again, just one planet among many instead of a metaphysical entity that is constantly producing an unimaginable spiritual energy.

It makes me scared to be a parent, feeling this way. I want to cherish my future children with every part of my being. Yet, a part of me knows that sometimes even the best parents get bored, annoyed and sick of their poor little children. And, let's be honest, one day those children are going to grow out of their fascination with their parents and the world, and grow up to think the way that I do in my advanced age.

So what's a person with a desire to connect to truth to do at this juncture? Do we accept that as we get old our perception of the world will deteriorate before our eyes? Or do we fight back with all our energy, trying desperately to grip onto the strings that we see coming lose from our grasp? Neither answer seems right, does it?

There is a story of two Hasidim who visit a village hostile to their philosophy. The people of the village are suspicious of them, and so one man comes up to the men and asks, "What thoughts preoccupy your mind most: worldly matters or G‑dly ones?"-- presuming that a Hasid would undoubtedly say the latter.

One of the Hasidim says without hesitation, "Worldly matters, of course."

The two were left to go about their business after this happened.

When the two were alone, the other Hasid turned to him in shock and asked, "How could you possibly say such a blasphemous thing?"

The first Hasid looked at the one who asked him the question and simply said, "When you believe in something, you do not need to obsess over it."

We should strive to internalize the beauty of spirituality and G‑d, but it is a dangerous business to get addicted to that initial feeling of amazement at the world that surrounds us. We feel this feeling for a reason: to use it as a springboard into a place where we are no longer observers of this incredible world, but are its shakers and movers.

Many of us get bored because we think in polarities. We think we are either bored or entertained. And so if we are not entertained, we are convinced we must be bored. But those are both essentially passive emotions. True spirituality begins when we move from passivity to action.

Thus, the world may not be as entertaining, but that is only because we will be the main characters in the drama we were only able to observe in the past.

Elad Nehorai is an alumnus of Arizona State University and Mayanot yeshiva. You can find Elad wandering around America, gallivanting around Israel, or getting lost in the clouds. His favorite things to do include reading, writing and conversing with G-d.

Conversations

June 14, 2009

Do you hear that? That quiet whisper that's surrounding you? That beautiful sonnet that's being recited to you?

That's Him.

He's talking to you. From the letters on this computer screen, to the music playing in the background, to the children screaming in your ears.

You and He are in a constant conversation, a love story with two characters playing out through all the years of your life. The beauty of this story is that every detail, every moment, is perfectly planned and perfectly adjusted to every single thing you ever do. The beautiful thing about this conversation is that no matter what you say, no matter how badly you stumble on your words, He will always be saying the exact words you need (and want) to hear.

Remember that time you picked a random book off the shelf and it changed your life? Or the time you thought you had messed up everything in your life and things just seemed to work out? Or when everything really did go wrong, but then you realized how it made you better person?

That's Him! That's His voice, calling out to you, telling you, "I love you. I care for you. I want to make you better. I want to watch you grow into the beautiful person I know you are."

It is when you recognize His voice in your ear, when you see the perfect details of the story come to life, it is when you engage Him in the conversation that your purpose suddenly blooms.

The problem is, sometimes even when you hear Him talking to you, you think He is yelling at you, pushing you to the ground, telling you that you are worthless. And so you turn His sonnet into a cheap poem, you transform His story into reality television— where words are cheap and time is wasted.

But still, even then, He will adjust to your misinterpretation. He will keep whispering those sweet words in your ear. Until you hear. Until you listen. Until it rings through the core of your being— and you respond. Join Him in creating the perfect story. Become a true conversationalist.

Until you realize both you and He have been saying the same thing all along.

Elad Nehorai is an alumnus of Arizona State University and Mayanot yeshiva. You can find Elad wandering around America, gallivanting around Israel, or getting lost in the clouds. His favorite things to do include reading, writing and conversing with G-d.

Digging Within

June 7, 2009

He wakes up. He looks around. He feels something gritty under his hands. Sand.

Getting to his feet, he looks around. The desert surrounds him. Plain, white sand in every direction.

"What had happened? How had he arrived here?" he thinks.

He starts to desperately search for answers. He picks up the sand and examines it. Every single grain is exactly the same. There are no rocks, no plants. Nothing.

He starts digging. But the fine sand keeps falling in on itself, and he reaches nowhere.

He runs. And runs. And runs.

But finds nothings.

Finally, he gives up, and lies down on the ground, crying. He is all alone. He is nothing, he might as well be a part of the blank, white sand.

As he cries, he notices that his tears are dissolving the sand under his face. A hole begins to appear. He notices a glimmer. Something is there! Something red. His tears of desperation transforming into tears of joy, he begins digging through the dissolved sand. As he digs, he hits something metal. He yells out in joy and digs around it.

Hours later, he has uncovered a car. A truck. A Pathfinder. The keys still inside. A full tank of gas. He jumps inside and turns the key. Brummmm! It's running.

And he drives his car, convinced that now he is saved. Now if he drives far enough, he will find what he has been looking for, he will find his connection to reality.

Within moments, he sees some lights. It's a city! He sees the people bustling, the neon lights flashing. He puts the pedal to the medal.

For the next few years, he lives there. He builds a life, he builds a home, he builds a marriage. For years, he forgets that he came from the blankness of the desert. He forgets that surrounding the city was a sea of nothingness. He sends his car to a junkyard.

One day, he turns the faucet to wash his hands. No water comes out. The lights go out. He tries flicking the switches. Nothing. He looks for his wife. Nowhere. His car: gone.

The house starts to shake. The walls start to fall. He shields his head, confused. But nothing hits him, nothing hurts him. All that falls on him is sand. Sand and sand and more sand. Until all that is left of the city is the same nothingness that surrounded him when he began.

Again, he is alone. Again, he trudges through the desert, through the white sand, hoping to find something, something outside of himself before he goes insane. Something to save him.

Finally, exhausted, he sits down on the ground. And he thinks. He meditates. He stares down at the sand. For years, he sits like this, longing to find some truth in the sand. But he finds nothing. Day after day, he is forced to accept that there is no truth in the sand, that he will never be connected to anything real again, and that everything he ever touched or knew was a mirage, a fake.

And so he stops looking at the sand. He stops caring about it, and instead takes a moment to look at himself, something he realized he never did his whole life.

In a flash, he realizes that he is made of the same sand, the same white nothingness that has surrounded him for so long. He realizes that he is just another grain of whiteness in the sea.

But perhaps there is more? Perhaps he can find more truth if he just... digs. And he begins to dig into his chest, into his brain, into his body. Until he can dig no longer. Until the sand falls away onto the ground and dissolves amongst it. Until he is exposed for what he really is.

Light.

Exposed, the light spreads around him, exposing the world in a flash. He sees cities, but this time they are real. He sees the car that he supposedly sent to the junkyard. He sees the sand build itself into something real.

For the first time in his life, he is able to go out into the world and realize who he really is. As long as he looks past the sand that surrounds him and sees the light radiating from his essence, he knows that he is divine, sacred and real.

Elad Nehorai is an alumnus of Arizona State University and Mayanot yeshiva. You can find Elad wandering around America, gallivanting around Israel, or getting lost in the clouds. His favorite things to do include reading, writing and conversing with G-d.
People travel around the world searching for it. They starve themselves for it. They scream, they cry and they beg for it.

“It” is that little thing called meaning. Truth.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could just bang two rocks together and find It? What if we could save money on airplane tickets and seminars and find that meaning in our own lives?

Join me on my journey through the infinite without even resorting to a midlife crisis.
Elad Nehorai is an alumnus of Arizona State University and Mayanot yeshiva. You can find Elad wandering around America, gallivanting around Israel, or getting lost in the clouds. His favorite things to do include reading, writing and conversing with G-d.