22 Av 5781 / Saturday, July 31, 2021 | Torah Reading: Eikev
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The Awe Experience    

The Awe Experience

Psychologists are getting fascinated about spirituality. Lately they’ve been very busy studying people who experience a sense of “awe” and radical amazement about something…


Psychologists are getting fascinated about spirituality. Lately they’ve been very busy studying people who experience a sense of “awe” and radical amazement about one thing or another. Some people are awed by a symphony orchestra; others are awed by a beautiful sunset, still others are awed by works of art.


It doesn’t seem to matter what it is that gives people a sense of awe. When people are feeling awed, some very interesting things seem to happen.  First they experience a present focus, then their perception of time slows down, then they feel themselves to be more patient than they usually are and then and they have a general feeling of well-being.


Those are only the emotional benefits of being awed. There are huge physical benefits as well. People who feel awed on a regular basis are more protected against heart disease, arthritis, depression and Alzheimer’s disease than people who don’t get awed by anything.


If so many benefits accrue to people who enjoy watching the sunrise or seeing a comet streak through the night sky, can you imagine how a person who contemplates the One who created the sunrise, the comet and the sky itself must feel?


There’s a story about a philosopher who visited a Rabbi and asked him if he could prove that there is a Creator. The Rabbi asked the philosopher to come back tomorrow and he’ll prove it to him. The next day when the philosopher returned, again he asked the Rabbi for proof of the Creator’s existence. The Rabbi handed the philosopher a small parchment scroll. The philosopher took the parchment in his hands and upon reading it burst into tears.


“Why are you crying?” asked the Rabbi


The philosopher answered: “Rabbi, surely you know this is a very beautiful poem. Who wrote it?"


“Nobody wrote it,” said the Rabbi


“Rabbi, seriously, this is one of the most beautiful poems that I’ve ever seen. I must know who wrote it.”


“No one”, said the Rabbi. “Let me explain…”


“My cat was walking along that shelf over there and accidently knocked a bottle of ink onto that parchment. The ink just happened to coalesce onto the parchment in the particular words and sentences that you read.  The whole thing was just an accident. Nobody wrote it."


“Rabbi, why do you insult my intelligence?  This poem has moved me so deeply. It’s impossible that it could be an accident!”


“So look around you, Doctor” answered the Rabbi.  "Did millions of species of plants and animals create themselves?  Are the oceans an accident? Are billions of people each one with his own fingerprints not enough of a sign to you that there is a Creator? And what of the infinite number of stars, planets, solar systems and galaxies, were they also created by chance?"


The spiritual benefits of awe are even greater than the emotional and physical benefits.  When a person cultivates an awe and devotion to the Creator all of his fears are taken away. Awe of the Creator is the foundation of personal purity, profound understanding, wealth and a long and productive life. Start today by taking time to think about G-d’s greatness and exaltedness and your awe and fear of G-d will be the key to your spiritual perfection.



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