These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

[Self / Soul & Text] Spiritual Chevruta

Posted on February 14, 2012 by David Bogomolny

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She was sitting on an adjacent couch, typing on her computer. Her weekly post was due, and they had completed their session within the past hour. They both thought that posting soon after their experience would be easier – while the thoughts and feelings were still fresh. Her phone rang, and she picked it up. At first he felt distracted from his typing, but the energy remained around them, and he regained his focus.

Energy wasn’t something he often talked about. It was something that he’d only been contemplating for the past several years, and he could only describe the effects of other’s energies upon him in general terms – the subject seemed too intangible to merit serious conversation, and he felt he lacked the spiritual terminology to describe his perceptions well. Besides, that kind of stuff was for hippies. He was practical.

He connected through analysis. Connected to life – to himself. To everything. His spiritual lightning bolts came as intellectual break-throughs, after weeks or months of consuming deliberation. He constantly picked apart his ideas and doubts, and pieced them back together in different permutations, relfecting upon the many implications. Occasionally he would hit upon an idea that resonated from his mind and heart throughout his body. These epiphanies shaped him. They defined him.

He’d met a particular woman at Pardes who was interested in becoming a rabbi. She hadn’t known that women could aspire to become rabbis until she met one at the age of twenty three. His relationship to spirituality was similar – it hadn’t been a consideration for most of his life, but as he’d become increasingly interested in Jewish practice and tradition, glimmers of spirituality had begun to catch his mind’s eye. Eventually, he found that he couldn’t ignore them, and religious practices began to beckon him to seek their subtle meanings.

The experience of discussing his spirituality with his chevruta had been powerful, especially within the context of his year of seeking at Pardes and the recent Shabbaton, which had him crying through most of morning services on Saturday. He was predisposed to thinking about and sharing his feelings, but three days of discussions on community, Jewish diversity and personal spirituality had left him spent. Receiving affirmation from ‘A’ had meant a lot to him.