Tuesday, May 03, 2005

A Tanyatic Journey

As things have begun falling into routine and the dish called life is not as spicy as it had been when I first arrived in Budapest, I start experimenting a little here and a little there; the test results are something so unexpected yet simultaneously so simple that the dichotomy of this discovery nearly causes my entire experimental lab – vials, potions, gizmos, gadgets, thingamajigs, thingamabobs, and whatnots – to unceremoniously (or, as we are Jewish, ‘ceremoniously’) explode.

The result is a wee-hour Tanya class.

This unceremonious hour (even Jews cannot make a ceremony out of the wee-hour), sees the homeless alcoholics, who have no choice but to climb out of their cardboard beds when the sun climbs out of its fluffy blanket, shuffling their half frost-bitten feet in search for a glass bottle to call home. This forsaken hour sees those who sport generic ties, wear clichéd shoes, and carry run-of-the-mill attaché cases peddling in that vicious nine-to-five (though here its more like eight-to-four) cycle. This transiting hour sees the supers of buildings, cigarettes perilously dangling from half parted lips, hosing down their sidewalks, putting out the green garbage cans for the garbage men to empty, and looking at life as a mouse looks at a cat – uh oh, what now? This miserably depressing hour also sees yours truly walking from 19 Wessalany utca, up Nagy Diofa utca, past Dob utca, through Kiraly utca, and finally into 5 Vasvari Pal utca, all prepared to face yet another day.

It is seven o’clock – A.M. mind you – and any minute now our class should start. Gabur is already here; Asher should be here before I finish writing this line. Ah, I can here his footsteps shuffling up the concrete stairs, hear his hand on the door handle, and, poof, here he is.

I am writing five weeks after our so-called “class” left its seeds and is now sprouting not only branches but fruit as well. Perek Aleph Tanya, three innocent words, innocent words that have exposed the innocence within. B’Soif Perek Gimel D’Nidah, four seemingly simple words, simple words that have uncovered our own simplicity. Our journey started somewhere between spirit and matter: we thought that spirit did not matter and that matter had no spirit. Oh, how wrong we were. Let us follow our journey down Selfishness Street, through Cynic Square, along Interstate ‘I’, passed Apathy Avenue, and across Boundary Bridge. We have reached the other side. (Sure beats Highway 61, even revisited, don’t it?)

The aromatic steam rises from our freshly brewed java, but no one notices. People start arriving for Shachris, but we have been praying for an hour now. Seven has turned to eight, but all the clocks in this room are timeless.

Five weeks now, five weeks of intense traveling: we have traveled over the plains of the soul, through the valleys of our hearts, and passed the hills of our minds – and we are just getting started. On one journey, we discovered that, when in touch with that G-dly spark within, the fusing of Spirit and Matter is easier then knowing only Matter – or for that matter, only Spirit. Why not, they both come from the same G-d?! On a different journey, though leading to the same destination, we came upon the meaning of the word “Leader”: a true Leader is not he who creates followers; a true Leader is he who creates leaders. And that is (an aspect of) The Rebbe: a Leader who exposes the Leader within every human being. On still a third journey, we see Free Choice, not the limited Free Choice of Good versus Bad, Body versus Soul, but rather the Free Choice that is our essence: the ability to do something beyond our nature, the ability to combine both Good and Bad, both Body and Soul. On this journey we take no exits, no rest stops, and even the gas stations, with their coffee fragrance spilling into our vehicle, goes unnoticed. We are one with the Tanya and the Tanya is one with us.

Oh, but they need a Minyan downstairs, and we make-up the ten. O, how we don’t want to leave this journey of ours, how we want to stay on this highway – yes it most certainly is a highway. But then it hits us: we are not leaving the journey, we are not getting off on some exit; no, we are but continuing our journey, through Shachris, passed breakfast, and onto whatever path you take, whatever your journey may be, whichever which way you fuse Matter and Spirit. But no matter what, no matter which way our journey leads us, we will always know – we will always know that tomorrow morning, within that unceremonious, forsaken, transiting, and miserably depressing morning, there lies yet another Tanya class.

See you there.


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