Inspired by Reb Kalonymos Kalman's ideal of a group of people coming together with the common goal of enhancing their service of God, increasing their sensitivity to all things spiritual, strengthening their love of acheinu kol beis Yisrael, and unlocking the enormous potential that we all have to cleave to the Almighty.

Interaction and discussion of practical ideas and concepts toward this end, culled from any Torah true source is welcome and appreciated.

Observations and personal experiences are also welcome; the point is to grow!

Friday, August 6, 2010

See The Wonder...

Want to strengthen your Emunah (belief in God)?

Rabbeinu Bachya Ibn Paquda prescribes a systematic way to increase one's recognition of the Divine in his daily life by examining and reflecting on the nature of things. The second "gate" in his Chovot HaLevavot (Duties of the Heart) is devoted entirely to illustrating how we can see the wisdom and kindness with which HaShem created the world and runs it perpetually.

Split into six sections, the Sha'ar HaBechina (the Gate of Reflection) explains:

  • The nature of reflection 
  • The obligation of reflection  
  • How to reflect on Creation 
  • The various different forms and manifestations of wisdom in the physical realm available to reflect upon 
  • Which manifestations are most appropriate and accessible for us to examine, vis-a-vis our correspondent obligation to reflect on said manifestations; 
  • What deters/enables reflection.
The fifth section shows how the most pertinent and effective source to examine is our own body; our physiology from conception until death, our intellectual and sensual faculties, the faculty of speech specifically, etc. Continuing on, we expand our scope to take in the wonders of the animal kingdom, and then the celestial properties - the stars, the moon, and so on. Physics, the laws of motion, the yield of an apple seed and the quenching nature of rainfall are but a few other examples that Rebbeinu Bachya focuses on extensively.

There is no shortage of apparent examples that can serve to increase our emunah and gratitude to God, if we would only take the time to really look at them and see the inherent divinity in all things.

I once heard a suggestion that that we should all attempt to learn something new about Creation every day, and really devote some time (even if only a few minutes) to reflect upon its significance. Making this a practice every day nurtures a sensitivity, an openness to the world around us.

I personally find that science books geared towards younger audiences are often great sources for such information; they are infused with a wide-eyed sense of awe and wonder this beautiful world that God has placed us in for the duration...

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