I once asked my beloved Rabbi, Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz of blessed memory, what was his main goal when dealing with people. With his unparalleled wit and wisdom, he replied: "I want people to know that they also have wings to fly, not just feet to walk. I want them to know that even if they travelled to the four corners of the world, they can, and should, still travel to the heavens, and bring a piece of it back to their place on earth."Rabbi Allouche
Did you know that looking down at your cellphone is like having a 60-pound weight on your neck that can cause our spine to curve? And according to recent statistics, most of us look down at our phones between two to four hours a day!
So, what’s the cure for our gadget-generation that is so obsessed with looking downward? Well, medically, there are a few things we can do. For example, we can hold our phones straight in front of us instead of bending our heads down towards them.
But during this high-holiday season, a different, and more spiritual, approach, is proposed. And it is encapsulated in the first words of this week’s portion, Haazinu.
“Listen, O heavens,” Moses exclaims, during his last days on earth, as he faced his nation for one last time. With those few words, Moses was implying that we too ought to look up, from time to time, to the physical heavens above, and to the spiritual heavens — to our very own Divine souls — within, to connect, to grow, to heed its call, to fulfill our G-d given purpose, and to then bring a piece of heaven here on Earth, by doing good, more and more each day.
Indeed, sometimes, the best remedy for spines that are curved downward is to gaze heavenward and reconnect with the One Above and with the unique mission which He infused in each of us.
When the late Lubavitcher Rebbe was just three-years-old, his mother found him climbing a tree to its highest point. When she asked him what he was doing, he replied that he was playing a game with his friends to see who could climb to the tree’s peak. All the other children had tried to achieve this feat but to no avail., Yet, the three-year-old Rebbe-to-be, had succeeded in just a few minutes.
So she asked him, “How did you manage to climb to the peak of that tree so quickly?”
The young boy responded brilliantly: “When my friends were climbing, they looked down, so they became afraid of falling. But I never looked down. All I did was look up, so I was never afraid!”
Indeed, when we look up, we are never afraid. When our eyes gaze upward, our hearts are filled with faith and reassurance. And when our hands reach out to hold the hands of our heavenly co-captain, we may just discover that He is continuously helping us navigate our boat, called “life,” in the best of directions, even when, from time to time, we may lose control.
Ludwig Wittgenstein, the 19th Century Philosopher once said that his aim as a philosopher is “to show the fly the way out of the fly-bottle.” And he explained: “The fly keeps banging its head against the glass in a vain attempt to get out. The more it tries, the more it fails, until it drops from exhaustion. The one thing it forgets to do is look to the sky.”
Similarly, I once asked my beloved Rabbi, Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz of blessed memory, what was his main goal when dealing with people. With his unparalleled wit and wisdom, he replied: “I want people to know that they also have wings to fly, not just feet to walk. I want them to know that even if they traveled to the four corners of the world, they can, and should, still travel to the heavens, and bring a piece of it back to their place on earth.”
So, have you traveled heavenward yet today? And have you brought a piece of it back on earth, and taken upon yourself yet another Mitzvah?