If you thought the timing of last year’s Thanksgivukkah was funny, you’ll appreciate that this New Year’s Day falls on the Tenth of Teves, the fast day commemorating the time when Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian army surrounded Jerusalem. This event began a 30-month-long military siege that ended with the destruction of the Holy Temple in 425 BCE.
Okay, so it’s not so funny, but since they’re on the same day, there must be a connection.
The Tenth of Teves is our nation’s way of saying, “Jerusalem wasn’t destroyed in a day;” the fast reminds us to envision our goal as a people–to see the Holy Temple rebuilt with the coming of Moshiach– then commit ourselves to making personal improvements to attain it.
And isn’t the New Year about making resolutions to do better?
So, as far as I can see on everyone’s calendar, self-exploration and self-improvement are in the air.
Self-exploration comes fairly easily to me, although I only recently appreciated this as a gift. It was only when I made headway with self-improvement that I was grateful to be so well aware of the things I needed to fix in myself.
One of the tools that helped in this process was learning about the mysterious internal workings of my soul.
For reasons only He knows, G-d created us such that the animal soul, the Nefesh HaBehamis, enters us with our first breath upon entering the world. G-d gives us a second soul, a Nefesh Elokis, literally a part of G-d Himself, upon the age of Bat or Bar Mitzvah–twelve for girls, thirteen for boys. No celebration or even acknowledgement is required; it just happens. And while it is Jewishly advisable to be “trained” to keep the commandments up to that point, we are only “accountable” for our behavior after this age.
Of course, I knew none of this growing up and I identified totally with my ego-centered self. I did not want to be vulnerable to the judgments of a superficial world–even if I was often guilty of judging similarly–and my outer personality was a wall that protected myself.
And that’s pretty much how it went for many years, even after I became observant. I often tried to access the “real” me, but I was always on guard, ready to fortify myself after a hurt or disappointment.
Everything changed for me seven years ago when I spoke to a healer regarding some physical discomfort I was having. With surprising ease and clarity, he connected my outer symptoms to an inner discomfort. Within six months, I felt like a new person inside. I began feeling stronger and less vulnerable, which allowed me to like myself in a healthier way. Which then cleared the channels to allow me to truly like others.
I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the new me. Of course, some days everything works better than others, but healing is an ongoing process; I hope to be blessed to continue to do it successfully.
And to help others heal, too. (So, if you want to discuss this more, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.)