Omer 48: Wrapped in a Talit

Omer 48: Wrapped in a Talit

Day 48: Yesod she’b’Shechinah, Grounding in Presence

Snapshot of a woman in a big hat wearing a talit

What does it feel like to be aware of the divine presence? Or to feel that you are connected with a greater spiritual consciousness? And how do you turn towards that awareness? Do you have favourite tools?

Our yoga teacher Loretta told us this awareness is a kind of energy. And that we could learn to use it.

Use it for protection, she said, when you walk or cycle alone at night. Visualize yourself surrounded by white light. So I tried this; it made sense. With the light around me, I felt focused, hyper-aware, and calm.

I remember the exact moment—about ten years later—when I realized I could find the feeling without even visualizing the light.

Sometimes, on Sundays, my husband and I would go out for pancakes with our two young children. The pancake place was in a strip mall, on the second floor. In front of the shops, there was a wide concrete walkway with a railing. But on Sundays, when most stores were closed, the walkway became a big patio, an outdoor waiting area for the restaurant.

So, there I was, fantasizing about eating an apple pancake that was really half an apple pie in disguise. Then, I noticed the kids were happily playing with their Dad. I had a free moment! One of those brief quiet getaways parents learn to take whenever they can.

So I smiled, sat down cross-legged on the concrete, and took a few deep breaths. Suddenly, I felt focused, hyper-aware, calm, and held in a presence greater than my own. All it took was a shift of attention.

And yet…so often I feel I need fancy tools to mark that shift. To help me turn my attention in a prayerful direction. Tools like…a talit! One you wrap around your body like you’re wrapping yourself in a new consciousness.

Last summer, I lost two precious talitot. The huge talit that Charles and I used for our wedding chuppah (canopy). And the absolutely unique beaded talit my late friend Bette made for me. After eight months, I finally began to look for a replacement. For the perfect replacement—a talit that would fill me with spiritual presence. So, I asked my friends which fabric would be the best. “Wool!” said one friend, “It’s biblical!” “Cotton,” said another, “It’s the most comfortable.” “Silk,” said another, “It folds beautifully, so I can take it anywhere.”

Well, that was inconclusive. So, I asked google about the spiritual power of fabrics. A Jewish website said that wool and linen channel the most energy. That’s why the mishkan (tabernacle) was made of wool. And that’s why the high priests wore linen to work. A Chinese website said that silk holds the most spiritual energy. That’s why silk-making was such a high art in ancient China. A website based in India said the answer depends on your own body’s energies. That’s why Indian traditions of Ayurvedic medicine used a variety of fabrics in healing.

Inconclusive, again! Or, maybe there is a conclusion. Fabrics carry traditions. They hold memories. But no one fabric uniquely grounds you in divine presence. Neither does any specific visualization. So what does?

You might find some thoughts in my recent post on devekut—clinging to God.


THOUGHT: Do you think that some symbols or concepts do a really good job pointing at God’s presence—like “light” or “Shechinah,” for example? Why or why not?

FEELING: What does it feel like to you to connect with a larger spiritual presence?

PRACTICE: Are there specific tools you use to connect with divine presence? Objects, words, garments, sounds, activities? Can you articulate how they help you?

GOD: Do you think God appears to us in our moments of high spiritual presence? What have you seen in your special moments?

New to the Omer? Here’s a guide to the theory and practice.

Image: Selfie of me wearing a new talit. It’s linen!

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