For my birthday, my friend took me to see a Rabbi that is very special to her. In my search for spirituality, I never thought that it would take me to a private meeting with such a deeply observant Rabbi.
Nervous and excited are the two words that describe my feelings as I entered the house. The orthodox community has always been a mystery to me. It often made me feel less than because I didn’t know enough, didn’t pray the way they did, and never thought I could catch up even if I started studying right away. Still a mystery, but I don’t feel bad anymore.
Upon entering the house, my friend immediately introduced me to those who were assisting the Rabbi with all his visitors. They made me feel comfortable and although I was not dressed like them or spoke like them, I felt absolutely welcomed.
It was time for me to go see the Rabbi and I was chicken. My friend asked, “Do you want me to walk you in?” And of course, I said, “Yes.” And we entered the room together.
My friend left us alone, and as the Rabbi and I began talking, I felt immediately at ease. This man could not be more different than me and we may never speak again, but at that moment, it didn’t matter. All he wanted to give to me were blessings and a prayer. I told him of the highs and lows of the past few years and the hopes that I have for the future. I shared with him my recent passion for Jewish meditation and he spoke briefly of the strength of my own breath. He then said, “Let’s breathe together.” He asked me to open my palms and breathe deeply and whispered, “Breathe happiness in and sadness out.” His voice was quiet and beautiful and in his hushed tone, I felt safe.
When we were done, he then asked me to take my hands to cup my face. I did this and not knowing what to expect, I looked up at him. He began my blessing with this, “Hashem loves you.” Frankly, I know he said more, but this is what struck me to my core. Hashem loves me. How beautifully simple and powerful. Maybe it is because I needed/wanted to hear it.
In this birthday year, I begin to notice how much I do pray and how much better I feel afterwards. Praying, breathing, giving gratitude, or asking for help – whatever it is, it feels good to speak with G-d.