Reflections, Part 1
I am BH safe at home. What a trip!! I cannot believe how much I am sleeping. I am grateful.
We were away for just under a month. There was the busy week before Pesach… and then Pesach, BH. My brother’s wedding BH. Sheva Brochos. My husband and children’s flight back to Johannesburg being cancelled. (Sorry Baltimore – I wanted to get something together for us. It wasn’t meant to be).
So, I guess my reflections start with Shabbos in Baltimore. I was staying at the home of my childhood friend, who lives just behind the legendary Ner Yisrael Yeshiva. An enchanting path runs from her house through a forest and after three minutes of walking you pop out into the sprawling and beautiful campus. Behind the Yeshiva is a small street named Yeshiva Lane, where the great teachers and leaders of Ner Yisrael have resided for the last fifty or sixty years. Something came over me that I wanted to meet the Rosh Yeshiva, R’ Aharon Feldman Shli’ta.
Although our Torah is a “Toras Imecha”, a women’s Torah, transmitted from tent to tent, and more recently, through teacher to student, his Rebbetzin was resting from her recent travels, and so I set my sights on a meeting with the venerable sage himself. With my heart pounding, I held dear my notes from the Rachel Leah course (which we are completing beH next week with its 7th and final session) to show the Rosh Yeshiva. The Gedolim speak the will of Hashem, and despite being told that the Rosh Yeshiva doesn’t give haskamos/approbations (how can he possibly know what I say and teach?), my feet walked me there.
I specifically wanted, audaciously, to bring Nexus to his attention. R’ Aharon Feldman, the Rosh Yeshiva of Baltimore, is closely connected (aside from everything else of course), to the enigmatic and difficult-to-penetrate writings of the Vilna Gaon. His safarim go through the most cryptic sections of Aggada, the seemingly non-sensical stories and legends of the Talmud. Since the Talmud is not “primarily” a compilation of the Torah’s hidden layers, but rather its legal and ethical transmission, the deepest secrets are contained in a code language that is so hidden that only the greatest scholars can perceive the fundamental truths and teachings they contain. So, despite my nerves, I persisted. He agreed to see me. And in my brief interaction with him, he left me – us – with a simple message. We are learning/ teaching Torah. It is a good thing. He was very pleased. I quickened my steps back through the path in the forest to my friend’s home.
At the crack of dawn the next morning, I left for Mexico. I did not know what awaited me there. What I found was an open, receptive, warm, passionate, ready-for-more community (and a lot of fire-works – it was some sort of national holiday!). Hospitality, seriously, like I have never. The unique village that hosted our retreat was full of home-grown goodness – earthy and authentic. Expansive views, crops and lavender fields abounding, a beautifully-serviced, natural, healthy and delicious restaurant, beautiful venues for reveries or rendezvous or whatever takes one’s fancy. Just the return to nature itself facilitated a return to sanity, to one’s inner being, to a rhythm that is conducive for such simple things like breathing and remembering who one is.
We incorporated a lot of experiential activities to accompany our learning and discovery, like Tefila, movement, art, singing, hiking, journaling, and moving through the deep inner work with chavrusas and small groups.
Every time I teach and aspire to facilitate change in others, I can’t help but not be touched and healed. What lingers for me is the theme that definitely kept on coming out in so many different ways. Carol Esther’s (the retreat visionary) wish for the retreat was to “connect women back to their femininity”. It is true. This is the healing balm. But, there is so much confusion. What is femininity, really? What is happening nowadays in this area that is causing so much pain and hurt in relationships and in women’s general states? Where do we find our power – clearly it is not where men find theirs – what then is it? It is so easy to speak generally about it, trusting that it is good, that it is potent, but what exactly is it?
This is a dilemma I experienced throughout the retreat. On the one hand, I wanted to share the pre-messianic teachings, that are so soul expanding and mind-blowing. That is our special mission, our special commitment – to articulate, aspire and share the wisdom of the feminine on her ascent and movement towards the end of days. Yes, this movement is a gentle one. I felt that where things were hurting was deeper within these just only emerging ones. I wanted to make sure that the containers were ready, the vessels were sturdy. Backgrounds were diverse. And so, for me, the teaching of “what is the feminine”, in her most simple and beautiful form, joined these two aspects together. This is the feminine that just is. And in aligning with it, we are automatically strengthened and healed. There is no pressure to rise. The rise will be automatic. But first, to heal. To return. To know the feminine for who she already is, waiting for us to fumble our way to her and remove all the stress that we live with when we have forgotten her, or never even knew her.
(True, there is healing in the rise… but the Torah prescribes a timeline. And that is healing to know. As the Talmud says, “whoever pushes the hour… the hour pushes back at him”.)
The classic feminine, the traditional feminine, the eons-loved holy model of the feminine is a receiver. I know you know this. I know you think you already know this. But let’s take this further. A receiver doesn’t need to give to be worthy. She doesn’t need a bris to be Jewish. She doesn’t need to grasp to be spiritual. She. Already. Is. Her beauty isn’t in her deservingness. He power to receive IS her beauty. The joy of receiving – and being made happy by it – is hers, already. If she isn’t in touch with this – then she needs to peel away the wrapper of doubt and confusion, the false skin of masculine or societal or otherwise confused thoughts and beliefs.
Let’s keep peeling. Deeper we go – and we find that in order to receive, she needs good boundaries. A vessel needs good walls. Otherwise, how can it contain? That is how she holds and preserves, nurtures and cultivates all that she is given. This is the greatest gift to the world – to gestate and birth the purpose of it all. And, if I may ask, if you may wonder, what is the purpose of it all? Here are some suggestions. For the rest, fill in your own. It is for Emunah. Joy. Faith that everything is just the way it is supposed to be. Love of Hashem. Love of His people. Love of Torah. Living a life of Torah. Providing a vessel for the light.
In the forest, we had a meditation. The trees were enormous, and so straight, reaching up so high. The trails were so interesting, up and around and over freezing cold creaks. In the meditation, we spoke about the 4 elements (fire, wind, water and earth), and how they reflect our inner make-up, which is of course a combination of masculine and feminine elements. It landed on me like a ton of bricks. To receive – to be feminine – in its essence – is to receive the glow of our own light. This is in distinct contrast to the exhausted stance of over-giving – extending – deriving worth from seeking validation – reaching outward and not knowing our own selves, being strangers within. To truly be feminine is to receive our own light, life-force, and love. And to be full.
If you wanted to come – don’t worry. With Hashem’s help, in the right time and way, the transformational process I shared will be made available to you. We’ve got lots coming up before that :). Together let us take a deep breath, and know that Hashem is guiding each one of us with the exquisite precision of a loving Father and the intimacy of a devoted Friend.
As the retreat ended, I found myself in Mexico City where I shared Torah with with a group of thirsty women whom I loved to meet. Early the next morning, I boarded a plane back to the States.
We held a special Nexus get-together, live in-person in Staten Island. I recorded it and it is transcribed… and that is my next email to you. it is here is when I really want to start sharing…. It is news in the breaking.
But before I do… You have got to watch the official retreat video, created by retreat participant, Debbie Medrez!! Watch it HERE
In this email you will find the meditation in the forest. I hope you enjoy.
All my love, Tamar Taback
“When you look for validation you have already shrunk. You no longer exist in a place of boundless truth but are limited by the dimensions of someone else’s perceptions.” The Chava course