Opening Our Eyes

Thursday, 16 May, 2019 - 1:24 pm


Dear Friend,

Judaism is unique in the way it synthesizes two ideas that appear paradoxical. Truth and peace, for example, may seem at odds with one another, our faith shows us how to synthesize the two. An additional example would be the relevance of timeliness and the transcendence of timelessness.

I was reminded of this just this week as I passed through Rockefeller Center and encountered the Jaune Plensa sculpture, Behind The Walls 2019, (a project of the Frieze New York art initiative.)

This wondrous piece of art made me stop and reflect. I wondered if 'Behind the Walls' suggests that one whose eyes are tightly shut is on the inside or the outside of that wall. And if art is subjective, a sort of Rorschach test as to one's deepest perspective, I saw (rather predictably for a Rabbi, I guess) the core of Judaism itself.

I'll preface that by sharing a tale told my in favorite publications as a kid, a children's periodical, edited by the Rebbe, called 'Talks and Tales'. This particular story, which takes place in a shtetl of yesteryear, presents us with a blind musician who plays at weddings and Bar Mitzvahs. Accompanying him was a kind soul who would lead him to and from the local venue. I can't recall many of the details but the kicker, which has always stayed with me, was that this musician in fact had 20/20 vision, and just couldn't stand to see what he perceived as the immorality and injustice surrounding him.

Was he right? It's complicated. The Torah expects us to navigate this life with 'eyes wide open'. With that said, every once in a while, a 'factory reset' of how we view ourselves and the world is in order. This is what I saw in "Behind the Walls".

When one recites the central prayer of our faith, the Shema, it is customary to cover ones eyes and meditate briefly. In those few moments the physical universe ceases to exist; the only reality is a higher one: "Hashem Echad, G-d is One."

When a woman (or girl) lights the Shabbat flames, she covers her eyes as well, and in those precious moments of personal prayer, there is no one and nothing just G-d and herself.

As the world spins, some aspects evolve and some stay the same, architecture, style- even our biochemistry- is all subject to change. And with all the change, we can get caught up in that motion. Alas, there are things that don't change. Morality and a Higher Power are fixed in time, and in that brief moment when we reset ourselves, we transcend the world and all its movement, and open our eyes again, recharged to view a world of possibility, built on an enduring foundation of Hashem Echad, the One and oneness of G-d.

At Chabad-Sutton we gather every Shabbat morning. I encourage you to join us as we close and reopen our eyes in prayer and reconnect with the timeless foundation of our faith.

Raizy and I look forward to greeting you.

With warm wishes,

Rabbi Shmuel Metzger



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