The Luxury of Time

There is a famous story about the Baal Shem Tov (Besht) and a man who was trying to pray properly. In this story, the Besht found him spending hours and hours on his morning prayers, reciting the words slowly and carefully because he did not understand what they meant. At the man’s request, the Besht attempts to teach him the meanings, only to discover that the man has already mastered the true method of prayer – to be consumed by the yearning for the Divine.

G!d gave me a gift a few weeks back – more time than I have had in many, many years. I have taken the gift and begun to use it to delve into my morning prayers in greater depth than I have ever done before.

I use the Koren siddur – highly recommended! – and I share with you the current focus of my kavannah: the prayer just before donning the tallit, which I render in the second person:

For the sake of Your unification O Holy One, blessed be You, and Your Divine Presence, in reverence and love, to unify the name Yod-Heh with Vav-Heh in perfect unity in the name of all Israel.

I am about to wrap myself in this tallit. So may my soul, by 248 limbs and 365 sinews be wrapped in the light of the tassel (hatzitzit) which amounts to 613 commandments. And just as I cover myself with a tallit in this world, so may I be worthy of holy dress and a fine garment in the World to Come in the Garden of Eden. Through the commandment of the tzitzit may my life’s-breath, spirit, soul and prayer be delivered from external impediments, and may the tallit spread its wings over them like an eagle stirring up its nest, hovering over its young. May the commandment of the tallit be considered before You, O Holy One, blessed be You, as if I had fulfilled it in all its specifics, details and intentions, as well as the 613 commandments dependent upon it, Amen, Selah.

Take the time to meditate upon these verses. Imagine them fully in your mind, whether or not you wear a tallit when doing so. Feel your life’s-breath (nefesh), your spirit (ruach), your soul (neshamah) and prayer (t’filah) stirred and sheltered by the Wings of the Eternal.

It is a luxury without measure.

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