Good news as always, first! Illana’s wedding in Neve Ilan was simultaneously a blast and an inspiration.
And what a perfect time for a wedding! This month’s Hebrew name, Elul has the same number value as the word binah, which means understanding. Understanding means being able to enter another state of being, (another person, his situation, another life, their realities, an new idea) and draw a new conclusion.
The Arizal compared binah to the womb, where the unborn child who is all potential develops from being just two cells to an entire human being because of its being nurtured in a place where that can happen. When you take in a person who is new to you, or even an idea that is as yet undeveloped and give it what you have to give, something much greater comes into being. Ultimately that is what marriage is about. Marriage by its nature involves two people who are different. They are born to different families, have had differing life experiences and are of different genders. You can’t marry yourself. You have to move beyond yourself to see the other person and to nurture what is real about them. One of my husband, z”l’s many gifts was the way he never felt at all threatened by anything I did, or with the differences that were part of our relationship. He didn’t try to convert me into being just like him. He encouraged my every move.
Bina is there in you. It’s an aspect of the Divine image that makes you unique. It’s also the source of tshuvah. The literal meaning of tshuvah is return, not repentance. Hashem is compared to a parent who always is there for each child. He knows what your situation better than you do. He loves you more than you love yourself. He understands what will make you grow with far greater insight than you have. Doing tshuvah means coming back to Him, with love and longing, letting yourself feel empty and asking Him to fill you. It also means that you want to know how to find your way back to your hidden self.
The same way that you don’t marry yourself, you can come back to Hashem when you acknowledge your present distance from Him, and try to draw closer by knocking down the barriers that you may have been erroneously put up because like the rest of us, you are unaware of your potential for good. Maharal tells you how to begin.
Don’t only look at yourself, or at people who are just like you. Find what’s noteworthy and good in people who are not carbon copies of you. Loving people who are just like you is compared to loving a sibling. What draws you close is common genes, common upbringing and common experience. Loving people who aren’t just like you is compared to loving a dear friend, one who you had to make an effort to know. The result of the effort is that the bond is in some ways deeper, like the bond between a bride and groom who have to move beyond the givens of common background. On a practical level this means using Elul as a time for seeking out the people who you may have harmed in some way (financially, emotionally, with words, etc). At the time that you did whatever you did, you probably stepped away from seeing them as being as human as you are. You were focused on their faults, or you felt anxiety or fear and defended yourself. Now is the time to see them as people who are different, human and deserving of being treated with decency and kindness.
This means stretching, and in Elul that’s fine.
One result is that Hashem mirrors your newfound understanding and acceptance, and relates to you with His binah, since you are now able to move beyond where you were.
There are many ways to go about doing all of this. How about starting by making a life review of just the last 5 years, and really be honest about your relationship with people with whom you just don’t click.
Another way of drawing down binah and compassion is by remembering the Jewish People have merit that goes beyond your lifetime. It started before you, and merit doesn’t disappear.
My daughter Dvorah has organized a trip to the Kivrei Tzadikim in Israel’s north for next week. For details of what may a very transformative experience, call her at 054-849-5896 / 052-7608425 firstname.lastname@example.org