Friday, May 23, 2008

Over your head?

Kabbalah? We’re practical people. We relate to making a living, keeping the family happy and the pragmatic elements of being Jewish.

Mystical ideas are beyond us, mention spiritual realms, sefiros, Divine names and they simply fly over our head.

Today’s Lag Baomer, a day dedicated to celebrating one our nation’s greatest mystics. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, responsible for one of the most seminal Kabbalistic texts, the Zohar, died on this date.

He is the one who insisted that we celebrate the occasion each year. Since then, Lag Baomer is a fun-filled family field day, especially in Israel, where it’s essentially a national holiday.

If you been to Israel at this time of the year, you will have seen hundreds of bonfires dotting the landscape wherever you go. Burning pyres are certainly iconic of this festival.

The other icon (maybe lesser known) is a bow and arrow. You have to wonder why. Mystics and fire seem to gel, fire is unconfined by the shape and size of other physical entities. But, mystics and bows ‘n arrows? Sounds like a bad Shidduch!

I got to try my hand at archery a few Lag Baomers ago. While I tried to hit the bullseye, the defiant arrow insisted on landing lower than the target time after time.

That’s when the instructor stepped over and revealed the arrow’s secret: “Aim higher than the target- and you’ll hit it”.

Then and there, in the chilly dusk of an archery club, I got the secret of Lag Baomer. Mysticism might seem out of reach, but it doesn’t matter. Aim higher than you expect.

In fact, all of Judaism is about aiming higher than our goals. If we aim for mediocrity, we land up uninspired- and less than mediocre. When we aim for the impossible, we hit a healthy spiritual target.

Sometimes, we surprise ourselves and reach beyond the target too.

1 comment:

Mitchell B said...


Really nice message, thanks :)