Thursday, May 23, 2013

Can you FEEL it?

I"A little bit of advice about feeling, kiddo: Don't expect it always to tickle." 

- Judd Hirsch as psychiatrist Dr. Berger in Ordinary People

As painful as it sounds, sometimes we need to recognize the value and necessity of pain. It is often the saving grace that allows us to return from the edge of spiritual despair. In a sense, it is an affirmation that we are not numb, cold, deficient, apathetic.

This is a salient theme in the writings of Rav Shneor Zalman of Liadi; in a ma'amar for the month of Elul, the Ba'al HaTanya expands on this idea as a gauge for one's spiritual status, likening one's internal barometer of closeness to God in sensory terms to the loss of feeling in the extremities of the body...

Acknowledging and embracing feeling does not have to be an intense, cathartic event per se, open and viewed by all. It can - and often for the sake of peace with others, must - be an internal private event. This by no means lessens the experience; in fact it often lends itself to the fullness of the experience when it is so closely held and experienced internally. I've heard this explained in relation to Rebbe Nachman's statement about learning to scream quietly and be fully alone with God, even in a crowded room...

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