People of the (Fancy Cover) Book(s)

As I mentioned earlier, I’m in a program called Ayeka, which seeks to help bring Gd into one’s daily life.  In the first class, we were asked to share a “spiritual moment”.  I had to think for a while, and then I got one.  When I went to the Kotel with Birthright and felt what I could only describe as some sort of energy emanating from the wall.

It’s been a very overwhelming last few weeks, and I felt that I needed a pick me up.  One of the great things about living in Jerusalem is that things like the Kotel are in my back yard.  Of course, that means I don’t go that often.

Putting it out there in class that the Kotel is a place I regularly find that my prayer is strongest, I decided on a whim as I was biking by the Old City to bike into the Old City, which was an experience in and of itself in the cobblestone alleys.  I see it all as a part of getting in touch with what really does and doesn’t work for me – a voice that is sometimes difficult to hear.  I have recently reevaluated a lot of my life choices to see whether or not they truly fit my goals and desires.

On another whim, I decided to pop into the Moriah bookstore near the steps leading down to the Kotel to see if I could find a gift for my fiancé.  I know flowers do not equal books, but what are you supposed to get a guy?  And I figured I could get something for myself too, since I’m still learning how to give gifts to myself.  There need not be a special occasion.

While my relationship with Jewish texts began as a desire to really get into the meaty original sources, I’m finding lately that I no longer have a strong desire to break my teeth over a sugyah of Gemara.  I’m looking for something uplifting, kinder and gentler.  Like… Chassidut.

So I picked up the Hanukkah book by Shmuel Zivan of teachings from Rav Shlomom Carlebach in the לב השמים series.  I remember a roommate in seminary two years ago reading through the book at the kitchen table and my staring in awe.  She was just sitting there reading a book in Hebrew.  Picking up the book again in the store, I was just as amazed to leaf through and find that I too could now understand!

As part of the Global Day of Jewish Learning and the first of the month of Kislev, I thought that today was an appropriate day to start the book.  Immediately I felt a sense of warmth, a milder version of the soothing feeling I get at the Kotel.  When I’m into what I am learning, I get that feeling when I crack open a text.

While the name says it all, there is something special about לימודי קודש which has no translation except for “holy studies”.  It’s different than just reading a novel or biography before going to sleep.  There is a reason why these books often have thick leather bindings and gold embossed letters.  They are the jewels of our heritage.

The beginning of the book relates Hanukkah’s presence at the end of the month to its place at the end of the day.  It’s a night time holiday.  Quoting the Kabbalistic text “Sefer HaYitzirah”, Rav Shlomo teaches that the month of Kislev is likened to the Hebrew letter samech, “ס’’, all-encompassing.    Incorporating an analysis of Jacob’s dream, which we always read in the month of Kislev, Rav Shlomo says taught that the relationship between the circle and sleep is that what you are aware of even in your sleep is what really encompasses you.

What an appropriate thought before I go to sleep.


2 Responses to “People of the (Fancy Cover) Book(s)”

  1. 1 Chananya November 8, 2010 at 3:07 am

    Funny thing I was just at the Aish Int’l Partners Conference last night and they showed a video about the meaning of the kotel to the Jewish people, it’s impact on and the incredible diversity of the people who visit (this is part of their marketing for the new building which will serve as a visitor’s center, exploratorium museum of Judaism and hopefully kiruv magnet.

    Warm regards from cold NJ.


  2. 2 Kate November 8, 2010 at 5:28 am

    Wow.! Wondeful article. I like it. 🙂

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Ilene Rosenblum is a writer and marketing professional living in Jerusalem.

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