Shavuot
Finding Balance in
the Wilderness


Colin Fletcher, the learned laureate of the soul stroll of hiking, once said that a Mateh/staff turns us from a wobbly biped to a sturdy tripod. Our Shalosh Regalim (our “three legs,” our three holy days) form those three points that make sturdy the spirit balance of the Jewish people.

Pesah is the time when we reclaim Shabbat,
the magic of seven, and the gateway to the spirit
.
In Breashit we see within the six days of creation a blend of spatial and spiritual. The inner light, called direct light in Sefer Yetzirah, created before sun and moon and stars, blends with the reflected light of the ‘Assiyah’ world of our physical plane, “and there was evening and morning,” a new day. But the creation gift of the seventh day, Shabbat, is the conduit to the spirit realm. It is the hint of Mashiah time, Messianic age, the hippie, and childhood dream of a world in gentle joining of sacred oneness.

As slaves, Bahir, we were denied Shabbat. On Pesah we reclaimed Shabbat from the narrow place and made it our own. We remind ourselves of the dangers of narrowness, narrow-mindness, narrow viewpoints, the narrowness of thinking only in the box, the channel made narrow by the thickening of our hearts.

Forty-nine days later, Shavuot blooms,
the Shabbat of Shabbat, the seven of seven,
the memory peg of Sinai singularity booms like thunder to wake us from our darkened complacency and illuminates our inner skyline, like lightning. It calls to us to become again that sacred seven, that Shabbat conduit to the spirit world.

On Sukkot, the third leg of Holy balance,
we hint at the magic of seven
with the strokes of our Lulav sword, cutting through the knot in six spatial directions while standing rooted at the center, the seventh point, becoming a channel that flows from our physical realm to the realm of mystery. Sukkot, the seven days plus one, calls out; “return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear,” when we were in touch with the earth, in touch with the wilderness, in touch with the wander and the wonder of our mystic trek. It cries, “return with us now to the spirit quest.” For if seven is the conduit from spatial to spiritual, then eight represents spirit realm that awaits those who seek the ‘in-Sinai’ insight, the wilderness wandering, the reveling in revelation.

And so we seek our balance through the Hagim(Holydays).
Each one offers us a leg up and a leg on which to stand; Freedom, Revelation and the grounding balance of spiritual and spatial. On this day we seek revelation. We seek that which is revealed, we seek to be revealed. When, on Shavuot, which is called the wedding day of G and earthling, G gave us Torah, G’s soul was incorporated into that sacred Ketubah. Talmud teaches us that at the time of ‘Matan Torah’, ‘the giving of Torah,’ G said: “I have written and placed within Torah My very ‘soul’ my very ‘essence.’ The Kotzker Rebbe adds that while Shavuot is the day of the giving of Torah, everyday offers the opportunity to receive Torah. We have the ability to make everyday a sacred ‘Yihud,’ a sacred joining, with G, through our entering into and meeting G in the words and play and through living our interpretation of Torah. Each of us discovers a different understanding; each of us grows in our own way by entering into and playing among the wisdom teachings of our Holy Ketubah, our Sacred Guide, our Torah.

Our tradition teaches us that the revelation comes from the divine name, so sacred, that we dare not try to pronounce it. It is so sacred that we rarely write it. And yet we can hear it when we still our hearts. And yet, we can see it when we close our eyes and open our minds. We see it, when formed vertically, as the spiritual form of humanity.

We have used the four letters as a form of breathing meditation:
Hay is breathing in and out,
Yod is emptying into the universal,
Vav is universe filling us.

The mystery of the four letters is used in different Kabbalistic combinations as Jewish mantra:
Yo, Ya, Yea, Yu.
Ho, Ha, Hay, Hu.
Vo, Va Vey Vu.
Ho, Ha, Hay, Hu.

And hidden deep in the antiquity of the letters themselves is a Sod/secret to the revelation of this day. Within the most ancient form of Hebrew, the pictographs from the time of Abraham and Sarah, we may glimpse a glimmer of the mystery or revelation.

The first letter Yod was a picture of a hand with a finger pointing. It is the God pointing, the tiny, gentle direction finder for our soul.

The Hay is the picture (according to some) of a person reaching up, reaching out. It is a person seeking, striving to understand, to stand under the finger pointer, the soul compass. It is the direction seeker, it is us.

Next, is the Vav, which is a Mateh, a grounding staff of balance on which we lean on our journey to the mountain where all may be revealed.

And lastly, we discover the second Hay, the other side of the search for revelation, it is our soul seeking to be revealed to us, to be washed clean of the dust and grime of our journey to Sinai and to shine in Holy Yihud, in the oneness of this marriage day with the WHolly One of Being.

For Shavuot is our wedding day with all the trappings. Torah is our Ketubah: the written vows and sharings between us and our beloved, who has led us to this alter/mountain. We learn that success in our joining with the Wholly One of Being involves faltering and finding. We see in our history that success means falling down time after time and then getting up again and again until, still faltering, we reach the mountain top and see not the essence of G but the ‘shefa,’ that which flows from the divine emanation into our Assiyah world of interaction between us and life itself.
We share in the cup of joy, the cup of Mitzvah, the cup of sacred connection. We drink deeply, thirstily in hope and in the striving for harmony. We taste the sweet wine of Mashiah promise.
We stand under the Huppah of creation in which we are now partners with the One who is the source of all creation. We realize (for that is what revelation is) that our world can be a ‘Mikdash Me’ at, a tiny sanctuary of gentle conflict, of loving harmony.
We hear the shattering of the vessel underfoot and are reminded that the direct light, the enlightening light of creation, which was contained in that vessel that was shattered in the time before time, surrounds us. The creation light is still to be found in the Klipot, the sharp shards strewn along our way.

And in our wanderings, we may discover and rediscover the light that is hidden in those shards that lie in the wake of our lives, and along the way of our life path.

And our souls seek to find the quiet moments of Yihud with our Holy love, with the One who calls us to this mountain and this moment.

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