Journey into the High Holidays with Amichai Lau-Lavie, founder of Storahtelling and the spiritual leader of Lab/Shul. It’s a daily dose of inspiration to get you focused and ready for the new year, featuring daily intentions, simple tasks, and tools for living better.
Just 40 days from today is Yom Kippur, the Jewish marathon of self reflection. As I see it, you have to train daily to be fully prepared. Here’s my soul training process for the next 40 days:
A daily dose of short reflections and practical steps to get to the divine deadline with as much grace and focus as possible—a way to get into shape, inside and out.
This year I’m dividing the 40 days into four levels, with each level lasting 10 days. The levels are body, emotions, thoughts, and spirit.
This grid is grounded in the mystical notion of the four worlds: Doing (Assiya), Feeling (Briaa), Thinking (Yetzira), and Being (Atzilut). The notion that the universe is comprised of four “worlds,” or levels of reality, is an ancient Kabbalistic grid reflecting the understanding that existence is multi-layered, and in a state of dynamic flux.
Let’s begin with body: what is the mass that my footprints leave on the earth?
So much of our happiness (or misery) has to do with our bodies, and so much with weight specifically. More, less; before, after—calories are counted with more attention than we count our days on earth or count our blessings.
Still, today I begin this 40-day journey of reflection with an inspection, judgement-free, of my actual, physical weight. I got on a scale this morning, and after figuring out how to use it, successfully weighed myself.
The ancient Egyptians had a ritual called “the weighing of the heart“—the dead were judged by the gods for their behavior, and to do so their heart was put on a scale. It’s possible that the Jews who developed the liturgy and symbols of the high holidays had this in mind when they integrated this notion of Yom Kippur as the divine trial. Maybe we fast to lose a little angst and shed regret before we get on those scales, all the while coming to terms with who we really are and what work lies ahead of us for greater happiness.
So, start today. Weigh in: Know your basic body mass, and go from there. Not where you want to be? Make a commitment to get there. At 176 pounds, I’m loving it (and aiming for four pounds less by Yom Kippur). I’ll keep you posted.
Follow along with the Scroll’s daily Prepent series here.