ו/Vav is the connecting tool, the tree-like stance
that links heaven and earth, the pose that hooks up heart and mind,
the 6th sense that knows puzzle, piece and place.
WORD: A ו/Vav is “a hook,” and its function is conjunction, connection, hitqashrut / התקשרות.
WORD PLAY: The 6th letter of the Hebrew Alphabet stands upright, like the first human beings whose origin is described on the 6th day of Creation, with the other creatures of the earth, and the idea of ‘us.’ “Let us make the human-being in our image, in accord with our likeness.” The Divine declares that, “It is not good for Adam [human/earthling] to be alone.” So how does one bridge the distance between one soul and another?
How do we achieve real and lasting connection? In Torah it starts with words [and letters], with language. Then with trust. Then with physical intimacy. First, Adam is invited to use this new technology, language, to connect, by naming all the creatures of the garden of Eden. The names of friends and family are familiar to, if not shared by, us. Welcome to ‘we.’
Then, that very language is set aside, transcended by venturing the unknown. Moving to deeper connection requires faith and trust. Adam allows himself to be put into a deep sleep. In this vulnerable state, his essence is exposed, removed, and shared. From his Etzem, ‘bone’ and ‘essence,’ another is formed that is “flesh of his flesh.” They share more than a name. And, though made of the same stuff, they are different, distinct. Now they can know one another, in the biblical sense – which could mean sharing the juicy pleasure of forbidden fruit (literally and figuratively). Invested in this consummate connection is the power to co-create new life, godly power. The archetypal ‘mother of all life,’ after a new conception in language, achieves physical conception, and the inter-generational connection, mother-and-child.
PRACTICE: ו/Vav offers many spiritual practices, especially at this time of year.
Say, “YES, AND…” In Hebrew a single letter prefix is used for all conjunctions (and disjunctions): ו/Vav. What if I employed language to foster connection rather than proving how right I am? When responding to challenging questions or statements, redirect the natural inclination to say, “No!” or “Well yes, BUT…” Try taking words like ‘but,’ ‘however,’ and ‘yet,’ out of your daily lexicon. Use “AND” instead. It makes for better improv theatre, and better relations.
“Words, words, words.” Speak less often, speak more mindfully. Try a word fast. Go a minute, a meal, or perhaps an entire day without uttering (or consuming) words, say, the day before Yom Kippur, Day of AtOneMent, as a reminder of the power, and the limits, of words as tools of communication and communion.
Eat less meat, eat more mindfully. The Hebrew words כשר/Kosher and קשר/Qesher [connection], share more than similar sounds. Kosher laws, kashrut, map out a dietary discipline that begins with fruits and vegetables (Garden of Eden), strictly regulates consumption of meat and dairy. Rabbi Arthur Waskow wisely describes it as a system of ethical consumption also applicable to how we fuel our homes, cars, and economies (especially how we treat workers), as well as our bodies. Certainly the practice of fasting from all food and drink (and sex) during Yom Kippur is an invitation to reconsider our consumption-habits/kashrut, and how they impact out connections/hitqashrut with one another, with the earth, and all her inhabitants.
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