Pure olive oil has become a favorite of those concerned about their consumption of healthy fats, mindful that our health is being steadily eroded through the clogging of arteries and soaring cholesterol levels, and that our sedentary lives and stressful times further conspire to undermine our well-being.

In Jewish mysticism, olive oil is a symbol of esoteric depth and insight. The spiritual writings wryly observe that the oil is only extracted through squeezing and compressing the olive, and then straining to remove the impurities. Ironically, it is destruction of the fruit that produces this high quality product. The oil can then be used to produce a steady flame from a wick that draws on this pure fuel.

The oil represents wisdom. Wisdom is the product of life's experience coupled with mind growth. Wisdom is the "fuel" for balanced and appropriate interpretation of life's circumstances and wise expression in that context. Everyone experiences challenges in life. These are at times painful. Like the olive, life often squeezes us, sapping the body and mind of its strengths. But the wise person will recognize, often in retrospect, how the experience has facilitated growth and development. Even the pain may have possessed some redeeming features.

Wisdom is the fuel of our growth. Wisdom is the source of appropriate responses to adversity. It allows the experience to become one of enlightenment. If the person is the wick for the flame of insight, then wisdom is the oil that fuels the wick. As long as there is wisdom, the body-wick will produce enlightenment in the world and immediate environment alike. But just as a wick burns up in the absence of its fuel, so is there many a person whose foolishness and lack of wisdom destroys him. Such people expend effort mindlessly, selfishly, engaging in "user-friendly" relationships that do not recognize that that a relationship is a transaction of giving, not taking. Such people "burn up" meaningless life in despair, and through the anger that consumes through frustration.

Life is about expenditure of time and effort — but through the energy of wisdom. The effort of overcoming life's tests may batter the body somewhat, squeeze the "fruit" of our being, but the resultant "oil" can become the wisdom that fuels our lives into meaning, mastery, and fulfillment.

MASTERY: How do you respond to people's indifference, to people's non-caring and callous behaviors? It rankles you and makes your blood boil? You have just received a pass mark of three out of ten. So far it's all hot air. What transforms "hot air" into wise response is wise consciousness. A response is useful only to the extent that it generates change or the potential of change. If that consciousness is lacking there is a real danger that the response smacks of self-interest or pure venting. When next confronted by another's "mis-behavior", pause, strategize, and point you vision to positive outcome.

MEDITATION: Focus on a lit candle. Note the gentle flicker of the flame as it yearns to rise higher and escape the wick upon which it depends for existence. Only while the wax produces the fuel, can the flame produce light. Become very aware of this circuit — wax, wick, flame, and light. Internalize this sequence into your life: wisdom, body, consciousness, and enlightenment. Allow this pattern to become your template of daily living.

Follow-up resources: I Love You/ I Hate You and The Ohr Hashem Meditation (audio) available at Rabbi Wolf's Website (see link below).