• Rachel Shifra Tal

Where is G-d?


I can not remember any time in my life that I did not believe in G-d. Not one time. However, there have been times when I really did NOT want to believe.

Holding my lifeless first child in my arms. I didn't want to.

I actually didn't speak directly to G-d for over a year. I couldn't. When you aren't speaking to somebody, you actually feel their presence even more, so my plan of ignoring G-d didn't work out. G-d was still there, waiting for me.

A very dear friend of mine attempted suicide when she and I were teenagers. I remember going to visit her every day while she was in hospital. I remember riding the train downtown in Chicago to go see her, which took an hour. The entire hour, my questions to myself was, “What can I say to her to help her hold on? How can I keep her company in her pain?”

With suicide, the wish to end ones life is really a wish to end the pain. That desperate, painful deep feeling of wanting to take ones own life. I think many of us have felt that way. There was a powerful quote I heard once that said, intelligent people all consider ending their lives at some point. It is painful and intense, this life.

That space. That dark painful, helpless, desperate space. When one feels they just can't go on any longer. Right underneath that pain, the devastation, is a space. That seemingly empty broken vulnerable space, just underneath...is the divine.

This space can be accessed not just through pain, loneliness or loss. We actually can always reach there, this seemingly empty space.

Empty space is a void we try to fill. Humanity has tried to fill it with, drugs and alcohol, adrenaline, distraction, chocolate, exercise, meditation, dance, love and the list is endless.

This space. The seemingly emptiness is actually quite full.

Close your eyes...Wait! open them, read the next three paragraphs and pick the one that seems best to you, and then close them..;)

· Imagine you have just finished an incredible yoga class or an intense work out...you know that feeling inside? Like a deep vibration or grounding? That is the space I am talking about.

· Or you are in an incredible Torah class and all the world just seems to light up and make sense! You feel that deep knowing and sense of being alive, vital, in tune. That is the space as well. I like to call that an ah-ha! moment. A lightbulb moment.

· Another favorite is around a campfire and the embers are settling, you are a bit drowsy and you look up at the stars, the vastness and beauty, the silence except for the crackling of the fire, the profound sense of peace, that all is right in the world, all is connected and that moment a deep sense of grounding and awareness washes over you.

We stand for an elderly sage when they walk in the room. What are we standing for? The wisdom contained within them. That wisdom is accumulation of years and years of connections made with the wisdom of the Torah and the deepness of his soul.

G-d in a sense pulled back to create space for this world. How does G-d pull back? In a relationship, which our Creator has made available to us, there is a space between the two, that space is filled when each reaches out to the other and fills, or closes the gap. That emptiness is the location of the relationship itself.

God breathed life into humankind through his nostrils. Neshama, the Hebrew word for the soul means breath. Another term for soul is Ruach Nefesh the wind of the soul.

It always confused me why would GD enter our soul, life force from the nose? When someone sneezes we say bless you ..why? Because ancient beliefs thought the life force left one through the nose!

Smell is one thing you can't quantify. It is not tangible. There are many stories in the Torah of sages saying they passed a place and smelled Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden, Heaven).

Wind, Ruach is also an analogy for G-D. You can't see wind. You can see its effect as the leaves blow, but you can't see the wind itself.

Those powerful moments I just described earlier. Each, even the painful ones, led to the same place. Our core, deep self. A self that is connected to the divine. In truth our Neshama is a gift and a portion of G-D.

Wednesday is the one day of the week that is furthest from Shabbat. It is known as a dark day, or the Jewish Monday. My Rebbitzin taught us that on Wednesday you are supposed to start one thing for Shabbat to begin to reconnect. I always need an extra pick-me-up on that day, and starting something for Shabbat, now matter how small, always helps.

In any successful relationship, especially a marriage, giving is not 50/50, it is 100/100. However G-D said to us, “Give me the opening the eye of the needle and through it I will give you worlds.” G-D makes for a pretty epic partner that way.

Another great way to connect is through gratitude. When all help seems lost, I start a mantra in my head of all that is still left. You can start at the top of your head and go down and then outwards. Our sight, hearing, smell, taste.....and outwards, our family, community......the list expands out towards G-D.

I bless us all to tap into that deep grounding and comforting space within. That we each take one small step towards our Creator and be showered with the blessings that we have.

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