Tending the Fire: Jewish Mindfulness Teachings and Suggestions for Practice

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We invite you to continue with our online community by following Tending the Fire, Rabbi Yael's daily mindfulness teachings and suggestions for practice, beginning with Psalm 51 and counting upward. They are posted daily on the  A Way In blog, Facebook and Twitter.


As we came out of winter into the newness of spring, Jewish time called us into a journey of discovery.

The journey began with Passover and the acknowledgment of our narrow places — the habits of mind, body and spirit that kept us bound and unable to move forward into our lives. Passover implored us to imagine a leap into the unknown, to find the willingness to leave behind what had enslaved us.

This journey continued into the Counting of the Omer. For 49 days we counted each day calling forth the healing and discovery that comes through awareness.

On the 50th day our souls returned to Mt. Sinai. They took their places at the sacred mountain of encounter and listened for the wisdom that would be revealed. Our souls received a glimpse of who we are and what is ours to do.

And then what? 

What do we do when we come down from the mountain?

How do we live from the experiences of this time?

The Torah teaches: Keep the fire burning: A perpetual fire shall be kept burning on the altar — it shall not go out. (Leviticus 6:6)

The flames of this fire first appeared to Moshe at the burning bush:

A messenger of the One appeared to him in a blazing fire in the midst of a bush.  (Exodus 3:2).

This fire filled the sky as it descended upon Mt. Sinai.

The one came down on the mountain in fire. (Exodus 19:18)

Face within face the One spoke to you on the mountain in the midst of the fire (Deuteronomy 5:4)

And then on Shavuot this fire is passed onto us.

It is now ours to tend.

A perpetual fire shall be kept burning on the altar — it shall not go out. (Leviticus 6:6)

This is a fire of devotion, connection, awareness.

The flames bring light that helps us see where we are and who we are meant to be.

We tend this fire through practice, through mitzvot: through acts of connection and love.

As Shavuot ends and we come down from the mountain and return to our lives, we are urged to take on practices that will keep the fire burning.

So we listen and wonder:

What is a commitment to practice I can make?

What can I do everyday, or every few days that will help me stay mindful and awake, that will help me keep returning to awareness and presence?

What is a practice I can do that will keep the fire burning?

As we are considering this it is important to remember to take on a practice that is realistic, that is doable, that is reasonable in your life.

Once something appears to you, make a promise to do your best to fulfill this practice. Then carry this practice with you from spring to summer and into the fall.

Hold the practice up as you enter into Rosh Hashanah.

Then on kol nidre, the night of Yom Kippur, reflect on your promise, upon your practice, and how it has shaped your path. If this practice remains true, carry it with you into the new year. If not, let it go into the light of Yom Kippur. And ask for guidance to go forward.


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