Shabbat didn't feel very "shabbesdik" this morning. The meditation session preceding the regular service offered me the opportunity to focus my mind on the shabbes in my soul;that was not to be-I felt nauseous ,and on top of the physical discomfort I was gripped by a feeling of emptiness and anger; even the opening prayer-my favorite-"Modeh ani lefanecha"-I thank You for the new day-somehow lost its power to elicit any gratitude from my heart. Frustration grew; isolated emotionally ,almost feeling claustrophobic, I left the service and took a stroll, considering not returning until after the service was over.It was a balmy spring-like day; I felt the need to be outdoors. In my concern that my absence would cause my wife worry, I returned to the service and took my seat alongside Rose. I sat quietly, eyes closed, unable to participate with my customary enthusiasm ,especially the singing that I enjoy so much.
As the service unfolded, Rabbi David paused in order to add a comment of spiritual import. He talked about the meaning of Yud Hay Vav Hay, the ineffable name of God,urging the congregation to try and share one understanding about this divine name, namely the Source of love leading to Oneness.I suddenly heard my name with the assurance that the love embedded in God's name was being directed to me and to the congregation.
The painful and dark stoniness in my heart was softened and a space for light slowly opened. A few minutes later, the most adorable child was brought into the shul carried lovingly by her aunt, Ariel, Rabbi David's wife. I turned to catch a glimpse of her and my heart melted further. The cherubic face of a child and the angelic concern of Rabbi David cleansed my heart of its blockage and constriction, and allowed me to receive the joy and serenity of Shabbes back into my heart.
Rather than the beginning of the service, the "Modeh Ani lefanecha" prayer succeeded in touching my sense of gratefulness at the conclusion of the prayers. As I recited the prayer for a second time, not only did I direct my attention to God; Rabbi David too was the focal point of my thanks and gratitude.
Thank you, mori v'rabi-my teacher and my master.