gratitude and eternity, by Tzvi Schnee
It is written that G-d planted eternity in the heart of man (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Being, as mankind is, placed within the framework of time and space that G-d created, we are limited by our own perception. Even so, there is some hidden glimpse of an infinite realm within us, designed to draw us closer to that Ultimate Reality.
In times of yearning for something more in our lives, the realisation of the Infinite should be a source of comfort, inasmuch that we can cry out to G-d to lift us out of mundanity, so that we can at least for a moment of time, transcend the constraints of our existence.
The sound of the shofar blast, during Rosh HaShannah, the Jewish New Year, carries with it all of our hopes and aspirations for the future. Wordless prayers are carried upon the resonant sounds of the tekia, teruah, and shevarim – the three different types of shofar blasts.
In like manner as these different ways of sounding the shofar, so does prayer have its many forms – individual and communal, written and personal. In Judaism, prayer itself is referred to as the service of the heart.
It is our heart’s longing to cry out for more than this material world has to offer: “all is vanity and a striving after wind” (Ecclesiastes 2:17, JPS 1917 Tanach). At least, if we recognize the Source of all that exists, in gratitude for all that we have, we know that beyond the material realm is the spiritual world (Olam Haba) where we may dwell for eternity.
It is a narrow road on the way to Olam Haba, full of nisyanos (trials) meant to refine our character; yet, this is the challenge, the goal, and the end result for seeking righteousness in our lives, so that we can live in kedushah (holiness) in this world and the next. Knowing the truth about Eternity should set our hearts free to serve G-d.