“Nishmati.” On the inbreath the Divine exists within us. On the exhale we exist within the Divine.
There is a wonderful instruction on Modeh Ani from Chabad, Rabbi Tzvi Freeman http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1466224/jewish/Modeh-Ani.htm which describes this. Modeh Ani is the first prayer of the day, the intake of Breath, the Soul through which G-d gave Life to Adam.
In my morning prayers, after the set prayers from the Siddur, I said personal prayers, hitbodedut, kind of like a pointing inward and a self exploration as well as talking to G-d. I asked “How are you?” and G-d asked me the same question. We bring The Divine into the world. The Divine flows through us and we through the Divine.
I think there is a responsibility there, but it is not overwhelming. It is comforting and life affirming. The Divine represents the best within us, the best we can be with other people. But it does not mean we have to be, or should be, “on our game” all the time. We will fall. The Divine is also Compassion. Sometimes we give Compassion, sometimes we receive Compassion. And to Understand we have to be both the giver and the receiver.
So we need help, we can’t do everything ourselves. Nor should we. I also asked G-d, “Who am I to ask for selfish things?” and G-d asked me “Who are you to think you can exist without G-d’s help?”
Metaphor is metaphor, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t True. I am not special. The Divine flows through me. The Divine flows through us all.
“Shimon the Righteous… would say: The world stands on three things: Torah, the service of G-d, and deeds of kindness.” (Ethics of Our Fathers 1:2)
Daily prayer, daily study and following mitzvot. Service means action, and knowledge means study, and correct action means prayer. Kether, Chochmah, Binah. Thought, Speech, Action. It is a circle. And within that circle we are trying to build our connection to G-d by establishing these three pillars.
“Der mentsh trakht un Got lakht.” – Man thinks and G-d laughs.
What concerns me is the rigor required to live and serve G-d. I don’t know what it means to serve G-d because I don’t know what G-d is. My eyes of dust do not see The Divine. My eyes of dust see only dust, dust which is transitory. Dust which will pass away to nothing. And I am constantly thinking, planning, worrying, trying to prevent that dust from blowing away and transforming within the massiveness of Creation. I am trying to stop the impossible, to prevent the inevitable.
But within me, sustaining me and the universe, is that thing I can’t see, The Divine Spark, which connects me with G-d. I am G-d’s footstool, the foundation of The Throne. G-d sits behind my eyes and sees the universe through me. My source of True Joy is The Divine, and G-d is laughing. And sometimes that joy is filtered through the dust to come out as tears, or dance.
This dust that I am worries that I cannot say my daily prayers as established in the Siddur over thousands of years. It is rigorous and complicated. Modeh Ani should be said on getting up. Amidah and Shema should be said three times a day. And Adon Olam and Yigdal and Hashkiveinu and the blessings. And this dust fails and is lost and worried and feels guilty for not being perfect.
But perhaps prayer is us, as dust, filtering The Divine into this world. Perhaps study is us filtering The Divine. Perhaps Mitzvot is us filtering The Divine. And we are all different. Pure light is white. A rainbow is all colours, and it is beautiful. The dust that we are is made beautiful, because it filters The Divine.