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March 18, 2016

 well_physed-tmagArticle“It’s interesting how the ocean can attract us, repel us, nourish us, and hurt us—I don’t think there’s anything else quite like it.” – ADAM SKOLNICK

Parsha Vayikra in a nutshell from

G‑d calls to Moses from the Tent of Meeting, and communicates to him the laws of the korbanot, the animal and meal offerings brought in the Sanctuary. These include:

  • The “ascending offering” (olah) that is wholly raised to G‑d by the fire atop the altar;
  • Five varieties of “meal offering” (minchah) prepared with fine flour, olive oil and frankincense;
  • The “peace offering” (shelamim), whose meat was eaten by the one bringing the offering, after parts are burned on the altar and parts are given to the kohanim (priests);
  • The different types of “sin offering” (chatat) brought to atone for transgressions committed erroneously by the high priest, the entire community, the king or the ordinary Jew;
  • The “guilt offering” (asham) brought by one who has misappropriated property of the Sanctuary, who is in doubt as to whether he transgressed a divine prohibition, or who has committed a “betrayal against G‑d” by swearing falsely to defraud a fellow man.

On Wednesday night I was trying to decide if I should cycle or run today. I would have normally run, but weather was looking like a no cycling day on Friday so I decided to cycle. Decisions??? Thursday’s ride epitomized why I love cycling – great weather, chasing a group, the thrill of “holding” on for dear life to not get dropped and that strange on the edge dangerous feeling of being so close to the bike in front of you. You get into the zone, this state that is hard to describe. PLUS at the end of the ride I was treated to a beautiful sunrise. Yes I should have gone for a #lovegoodcoffee , but I love breakfast with the family and was rushing for work.

Champion rider Fabian Cancellara describes what he went though winning the time trial of the Tirreno-Adriatico cycle race –   “It’s a race of pure concentration… You have adrenaline the whole time, but you have to focus on pushing, focus on the road, the asphalt, focus on breathing, and also try to find a way to go over your limit….This is about the clock, about who goes the fastest, so you have to find a way to go on a level where you are normally not riding. It’s an over-limit race.” I suppose you have to clear your mind and just focus on doing the best you can?

For me doing exercise is my meditation. My time to reflect, to try clear my mind, to enjoy my surroundings, to spend time with friends, to get fit and push my limits.

More and more people are meditating in different ways and for different reasons. My understanding, is that meditation is a tool or technique, not inherently Buddhist or Jewish or anything else. From what I have read, Judaism has a very long history of meditation and contemplative practice. For thousands of years, there have been Jewish teachers in every part of the world teaching meditation, Kabbalah, mystical interpretations, and deeply spiritual practices.

In a Fat Black PODCAST with triathlete Pete Jacobs he describes how he has installed a gym in his garage and has a little corner to do exercise and stretch. He says that this is his meditation time, his quiet time. He says you need to quiet the mind. He says that doing “medidation” and exercise at the same time is an efficient use of time.

In a Rich Roll PODCAST with Adam Skolnick, the author of the book One Breath about the life of freediver, Nicholas Mevoli. He described what these divers do when going deeper as a “Spiritual athletic cocktail” and compares the experience to what Tibetan Monks feel when they are in deep meditation. In a separate article on the book he describes freediving – “There’s no sport that includes a meditation component, kind of a real Zen component like this one does.

Michael Carr-Gregg the Technology-loving Child and Adolescent Psychologist, mental health advocate posted an interesting article on twitter “Counting calories doesn’t work, try MEDITATING to lose weight[i]” This is pretty interesting? Loren is a big fan of his and I am currently reading his book “The Princess Bitchface Syndrome – Surviving Adolescent Girls”. Excellent read for a father of a teenage daughter!

In an article on MindBodyGreen titled – Supermodel Elle Macpherson On Meditation, The Importance Of Laughter, And #Wellth[ii]. Elle was asked various questions including – How do you de-stress/practice self-care? This is how she answered – “I meditate for about 20 minutes when I first wake up and then take a moment again around 2 p.m. if possible….”

In a recent article by Dr Frank Lipman – 8 Tips to Bust Stress and Calm Down Quick[iii]. He listed Trying a 3-Minute Guided Meditation. He said “…Need to calm down before an important meeting or big presentation? You don’t have to get into the lotus position to do this one. Just grab a chair, close your eyes and take a mere three minute time-out to get stress under control with this super simple guided mediation for beginners and pros alike.”

Another reason – “Meditating Before You Exercise Could Help Fight #Depression[iv] @emiboscamp . I love this quote in the article “You can, essentially, outrun your woes… And many studies have shown that mindfulness exercises like meditation are effective treatments for depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.” The @nytimeswell also carries a similar article “Meditation Plus Running as a Treatment for Depression[v]

There is a spiritual aspect to meditation, a way to get closer. In this week’s Parsha Vayikra which is at the start of the Book of Vayikra (Leviticus), we learn of the sacrifices. The Hebrew word for sacrifice is korban. The root of korban means “to draw near.” When you think of the idea of sacrifice, you think of giving something up, and there’s a tension in the giving up or giving away. Korban flips that connotation and offers the idea of an act that allows us to approach G-d or holiness or whatever you want to call the ineffable. In Vayikra (Leviticus) the 3rd or middle book of the Torah, the very center, the heart, all of Torah radiates out from this central idea of what we do to get closer. In a Blog from the Jewish Meditation Centre of Brooklyn, the owner Alison[vi] says “ In my meditation practice, I start each day with an intention. I go through phases, and my intentions shift and evolve, but for many years, I’ve watched them circle around the same three desires: an open heart, to be of service, and to be kind. It seems to me that the only way to have an open heart is to open my heart. The only way to be of service is to serve, and the way to be kind is to practice kindness at every opportunity. These actions, whether internal or external, can be seen as offerings, and as korban, drawing nearer and nearer.” She goes on to conclude – “My kavanah, or intention, for this week is to see our seats as our altars and to offer our whole selves up as korban. Practice sitting and breathing and feeling pulled closer and closer to something larger than ourselves and also nearer and nearer to our own hearts.”

To end a beautiful story and a different explanation to the small aleph in the word Vayikra in the torah. I do believe that here are people who for what ever reasons are in a different world and are able to draw inspiration and understanding possibly from a source and are able to transcend the physical world.

A child asked Rabbi Schneur Zalman the following question[vii]: “Why is the word vayikra written with a little aleph?”

For a long while Rabbi Schneur Zalman sat in a deep meditative trance. Then he explained:

“The first man, Adam, was ‘the handiwork of G‑d,’ and G‑d attested that his wisdom was greater than that of the angels. Adam was aware of his own greatness, and this awareness caused him to overestimate himself and led to his downfall in the sin of the Tree of Knowledge.”

“Moses, who possessed a soul deriving from chochmah of atzilut (the highest manifestation of the divine wisdom), was also aware of his own greatness. But this did not lead him toward self-aggrandizement. On the contrary, it evoked in him a broken and anguished heart, and made him extremely humble in his own eyes, thinking to himself that if someone else had been blessed with the gifts with which he, Moses, had been blessed, that other person would surely have achieved far more than himself. Thus G‑d testifies in the Torah that ‘Moses was the most humble man upon the face of the earth.'”

“In the letters of the Torah, which G‑d gave at Sinai, there are three sizes: intermediate letters, oversized letters, and miniature letters. As a rule, the Torah is written with intermediate letters, signifying that a person should strive for the level of “the intermediate man” (a concept that Rabbi Schneur Zalman puts forth in his Tanya). Adam’s name is spelled with an oversize aleph, because his self-awareness led to his downfall. On the other hand, Moses, through his sense of insufficiency, attained the highest level of humility, expressed by the miniature aleph of Vayikra.”

I have only mentioned a few reasons to meditate. I have read that many top executives meditate for various reasons and that there are definitely very good for all of us to try meditation. How you achieve this spiritualty and ability to clear your mind I suppose is up to you. I have not, but would love to incorporate a more formalized meditation practice into me day, but…

Andy Puddicombe, founder of the Headspace App that teaches meditation and who I have mentioned previously says “Headspace: less about solidifying beliefs and ideas, more about maintaining an open and curious mind. #headspacesxsw



[i] ‪ … ‪@SmilingMind






[vii] From the talks of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson

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  1. mom permalink

    Love this week’s blog. Soooo meaningful – thanks!

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