Monday, February 18, 2008

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Down In The Sewer

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

When we think, metaphorically speaking, of being dragged down into the sewer, we think of (G-d forbid) encountering inappropriate sights. Or, being bombarded with negative stimulus that leads to inappropriate thoughts. We think the opposite of kedushah (holiness) is large stinking piles of sewage.

Of course, such things do exist. And just like coming in contact with sewage truly can infect and be deadly physically, these things can do so spiritually.

But the Yetzer Hara (the evil inclination) doesn't often try to draw one into sewage, for most people just won't go (at least not in the beginning).

When we think of great troubles in life, we think of those who (Lo Alaynu, please G-d not to us!) encounter a tragedy. A car accident that seriously injures (G-d forbid). A fire that costs lives (Chas v'Shalom). Interaction with extreme violence (crime, terrorism).

But, people that enter such times enter a different world. One is not drawn down at such a time, one isn't even on the same plane of existence. This is not the place of the Yetzer Hara, this is a din, a challenge, a life that must be rebuild.

No, the Yetzer Hara, he comes every day. His challenges are more subtle, crafty, wiley. Little disturbances that set a negative tone to the day. Interruptions that draw ones mind to all the little things in life that you just struggle to get past. And when the day ends, you go, where did it go? Indeed, it passed without notice focused on ... trivia.

Tefillos (prayer) cannot ascend and connect to Hashem without kavanah (focus & concentration), and neither tefillos nor mitzvos (commanded deeds) can ascend without the twin wings of love and fear of Hashem. Prayer by rote is like an injured bird, it just flops around down on the ground in this world. (Don't worry, there's hope for that bird to be healed!) And when we're worried about the trivia, all of what truly matters is probably being done by rote.

If I ask you, "How was your day?", do you think about how work went, or school, or do you think about how your morning prayer went?

The weather was incredible, the kids had a good day in school, traffic was lite, but my day could have been better, for my tefillos and mitzvos were ... preoccupied.

And that's truly being down in the sewer. For my prayers are flopping around on the ground, and I didn't even notice!

G-d willing, and with a focus on what's important, perhaps I'll have a better day tomorrow.

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