A Moment of Truth
When a person knows G-d in general terms he is called a servant -- he obeys
his master's command, and does not have the right to search his hidden archives
and house secrets; when one knows G-d in [intimate] detail he is called a
son, his beloved, who can search the hidden archives, all the house secrets.
And though he is called son. the eldest son of G-d...he still remains a servant,
to serve his father in various ways which honor his father. Every person needs
to be both a son to his father, to search the hidden and to know the house
secrets, and a servant -- this week's portion in Zohar (end of Behar, 111b)
A moment. Forever.
All special things, even eternal ones, happen in a moment. Most moments in our
lives are fleeting, easily forgotten or never remembered in the first place.
But magical moments – of love or loss, of joy or pain, of a secret revealed
– live on.
It may take many moments, many years, even eons, to reach that one special moment.
But the moment is still but a moment. And when it happens, you never forget
it. The moment becomes a permanent part of you. Hopefully you hold on to it,
but even when you don't, it always remain etched in your being, waiting to
be retrieved, in moment's notice.
Etched in my mind forever is a single moment, which happened one year ago today,
at precisely 5:17PM. Sunday, Iyar 20th (corresponding to May 29th).
I saw a life -- a life that shaped me -- end one leg of its journey, only to
begin another leg. My limited perception, one that I share with many, could
only see the first stage. One moment I saw my father's soul manifest in his
body. The next I did not.
What happened at 5:17Pm? I really don't know. A soul that was just with us was
no longer there. I tried hard looking. G-d did I try. But once the curtain
closes, as much as we try, our eyes cannot see beyond.
One moment – alive, vibrant, electric; a personality that touched and changed
many lives. The next moment – gone.
5:17PM the life force of my father -- otherwise known as the soul -- left us.
Or did it?
Does a soul live on in our lives, in our memories? Does the soul continue to
thrive through the inspiration and words it leaves us, especially one who
left mountains of writings?
One of the first memories I have of my father is holding his hand walking up
Nostrand Avenue on Shabbat morning on our way to Shul. I always felt comfortable
around him. Always. Now I know why. It was because he always felt comfortable
with himself. When you are at peace with yourself, you are at peace with everyone
around you (even if you may radically disagree with another) and you comfort
them in the process. When my father would speak about his father (my namesake)
there was a very profound by unspoken confidence. I now understand where my
father derived his personality.
Ahh... healthy people. Complex, but smooth and seamless.
When my children were young, I would clutch their little hands as we walked,
as my father did mine. I must confess that today I sometimes try to briefly
hold the hand of my 22-year-old son, to his chagrin and embarrassment. Little
does he know that I do it not for him but for me. It's recreating my connection
to my childhood, to my father.
The door of truth between the two worlds opens twice in our lives. Once in the
beginning, once at the end.
Upon birth a channel opens, delivering a gift to this world: A newborn child.
Where did the soul originate, where did this new life suddenly appear from?
We cannot see. All we witness is the door opening.
Then, upon death (or better put: when the soul separates from the body) the
door opens for the second time, returning the gift to its original place.
What is that place like? I guess only souls know. And only when we become
soulful can we know.
What wise words King Solomon wrote: “The living shall take to heart.” Take to
heart not just the grief and sadness over loss – do we need the wise Solomon
to tell us that our hearts cry when we lose a loved one? We take to heart
and remember even after the door closes. Remember that we have limited perception.
Even when we can't see behind the door, never feel or think, even for one
brief moment, that nothing is happening on the other side.
Take to heart…
In the second year [of the Exodus], on the 20th of the second month [Iyar],
the cloud rose from the Tabernacle of Testimony. The Israelites thus began
their travels... (Numbers 10:11)
5:17PM on the 20th of Iyar a cloud rose and returned to Heaven. A brief second
* * *
The Samach-Vav Connection
What is truth?
Is it what we see, hear, taste, touch and smell? Is it what we feel, think,
sense and intuit? Is it what we love, believe and trust? Or is it all or none
of the above?
Truth, explains this week's Samach-Vav,
is seeing the true nature of existence, seeing beneath the surface, which
conceals what lies within.
Revelation of truth consists of many levels, one deeper than the next:
First it recognizes that our existence is not self-contained; a Divine life
force sustains it. This awareness is the first step to all truth. As long
as you are consumed with the narcissistic feeling that "I am, and there
is nothing beside me," then your only "truth" will be subjective
-- driven by own needs and perceptions, no matter how distorted they may be.
The light of objective truth enters your life when you realize that there
is more to life than you and your myopic vision.
The next level of awareness is when you come to recognize that the concealment
of the inner force is in itself a Divine energy. Its purpose being to allow
us the opportunity to heal the rift, to reveal the invisible, and expose that
which is concealed.
Beyond that is the awareness that Reality is not what we perceive it as: from
the outside in. Rather it is “inside out.” We think that this -- our universe,
our feelings, our experiences -- is “where it's at,” and the world of spirit
is somewhere “out there” (if at all). In truth, it's the other way around:
The Divine is “where it's at,” true reality, and we are the novelty “out there.”
Finally, the ultimate state of awareness is when we recognize and reveal that
the concealment itself is rooted in the hidden, undefined, Divine essence
– infinitely higher than any form of defined revelation.
These are the mysteries of truth – the “hidden archives” and “all the house
secrets” – that a son discovers. The hidden elements within the structure
of existence and beyond the structure.
I tasted this truth when I closed my father’s eyes on May 29, 2005, Iyar 20
5765 at... 5:17PM.