Staying Awake

When I was preparing for Shabbat services soon after Shavuot, I came across a Hasidic teaching about the importance of staying awake to our lives.

As the Torah teaches, the experience of Sinai lasted only a moment. In the time following, the people had a difficult time holding onto it. Once we have a spiritual awareness, for whatever strange human reason, it’s so easy to go back to sleep afterward. Spiritual practices can help us to return to being fully awake.

One of the practices to keep from going to sleep, according to Hasidic tradition, is to have a companion call out your name -- or call out your own name. The Zohar teaches that a way to remember your name is to say a pasuk, a verse, that begins with your name's first letter and ends with its last letter.

For example, a person with the Hebrew name Leah would say a verse that begins with Lamed and ends with Heh. Like Psalm 24:1

A song to the beloved: the earth and all that is, 

Is filled with Divine presence.

 

Someone with the name Lev David could choose from two: 

Your faith flows through each generation.

It is the foundation on which all the earth stands.

                                                Psalm 119:90

Or

 

To the Eternal Mystery, sing: God is our refuge and strength,

Our help in times of trouble,

Very close.

                                                Psalm 46:1-2

I invite you to explore this practice. If you email me your Hebrew name (to ravyael@mishkan.org),  I will send you a verse or two to choose from. Say the verse of your name every day until Yom Kippur. At Kol Nidre, you can decide if it this practice is true for you. In the meantime, it would be a great gift if you would share your experiences with us on this blog.

 

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