The Sky is the Limit
It seems as if no one I know is happy; So many people have major issues sapping their peace of mind. Some, more than ever, find themselves wondering, “What’s it really all about? “What’s going on?” “What does G-d want from me?”
These are spiritually-driven questions, yet the askers never seem satisfied with spiritual answers. Tell them it’s all about stopping their sins and elevating the world through Torah and they will roll their eyes, shut you up, and start quoting gurus and their trite soundbites as if they were speedy transformative incantations. After all, saying abracadabra to make all our “boo-boos” disappear and wishes come true is so ever convenient.
Click to watch Aliza's Torah videos on YouTube... “Torah? Nah! There has to be another way,” is a reply I’ve often heard by those attempting to shirk off any religious duty that would interrupt their daily schedules which includes bemoaning their plight. And so, as palliatives for empty hearts and flagging souls, these searchers of life’s meaning fill their lives with materialistic ornaments, promiscuity, Botox, yoga, body sculpting, traveling, shopping, decorating, golfing and all kinds of recreations and distractions, to no avail. Happiness evades them and another day dies and with it the opportunity to create light. The shallow pursuit of more and plenty will never satisfy their souls nor satisfactorily answer their questions. Rather, it will even further exasperate them as their hands are filled with “gold” but their hearts are empty of peace. Still mankind continues to build its golden calves and hence the Heavens rumble.
I find the question, “What does G-d want from me?” puzzling. When we read articles about the Keto diet, we understand what dietary modifications we have to make. When we read self-help books, we know what the authors are recommending for better living. I am not sure then why when reading G-d’s book, we become illiterates and can’t seem to understand our native tongue. We have the Torah for over 3333 years and we still don’t understand what G-d wants from us? It’s there in black and white. Yet we are more inclined to believe the print in the National Enquirer than G-d’s own word.
When it comes down to TRUTH, we can’t go shopping and bidding for answers that we prefer, as we do on eBay for items. The Torah is the only truth. It is the blueprint of all creation, G-d’s architectural plan for creating the world. Therefore, in order to understand the world we live in and our place in it, we must refer back to the original “user’s manual.” If you don’t subscribe to it, it’s your prerogative. But then don’t seek for truth in the world of lies, just as you wouldn’t read the instructions for your toaster while trying to fix your washing machine. For doing so my friends renders us not “truth seekers” but rather voluntary obfuscators guilty of manufacturing our own darkness.
So how can we extricate ourselves from the black hole that sucks us is deeper and deeper? Through prayer! It is like a sharp pointed arrow that can pierce the Heavens. And it can save us. But just as with a bow and arrow, the closer one pulls the string toward one’s heart the farther the arrow will go, so to the more our prayers come from our heart with truth, the higher they will go. When we pray to G-d with all our hearts, all our souls and all our might, we can get close to our Maker and change nature itself. In fact, praying and reopening a relationship with G-d is the ark of our survival. Interestingly, the rabbis teach that the Hebrew word for ark (as in the ark which saved Noah) also means “word” alluding to prayer. Is it truly imaginable that the whole world was destroyed by boiling water and a mere boat withstood it all? Prayer is what kept it sailing and impermeable.
In this week’s Torah reading of Vayeitzei, we read about Jacob’s famous dream of a ladder set in the earth, with its top reaching the Heavens. G-d’s angels were ascending and descending on this ladder. The angels represent the ascent of man’s prayers. The ascending angels bring man’s supplications to the celestial Throne and then those same angels descend laden with Heavenly blessings. Note that the Hebrew words for “ladder” and “voice” have the same numerical value (136), indicating a relationship between the two and demonstrating the power of prayer: the voice ascends and the sky is the limit.
If our voices can activate Alexa, what makes us think for a single second that they can’t affect the Heavens? G-d is just waiting to hear from us as parents wait to hear from their children. The technology also teaches us to be deliberate and articulate in our requests or we may find Alexa playing heavy metal music by Black Sabbath instead of Sabbath sundown times. And just as we all resent communicating with people who are talking to us while texting and playing with their phones, G-d, too, wants our undivided attention. Pray as if you actually care about your relationship with the Divine, and not with burden-inspired impatience to get it over with. And as Rabbi Doniel Katz brilliantly pointed out, “How you pray is how you live your life.” And that my friends is really think about. Shabbat Shalom! Subscribe to watch Aliza's Torah videos on YouTube...