This year of living distractedly continues for me. Lots of moving parts in my life, from mom’s health issues, travel, and prepping to launch a kiddo to college. My mind is filled with so many ideas, but I have been blocked about putting fingers to keys. The sense of overwhelm keeps coming in, and my mind flits around and nothing gets done. And no, I don’t count the updates on Facebook, or the articles in the Forward/Tablet that I read online.
One source of joy and stability for me has been Jewish events and networking. Three days at the Limmud Bay Area Festival 2018 were just wonderful. I facilitated a session called Jewish Wisdom For Stress Free Parenting. It was magical – about 14 people that included an Orthodox woman nursing an 8 month old, 2 twenty something brothers without kids, a mom and her teen son, grandparents, fathers.
Having us all come together and share something was anything but overwhelming – it was peaceful. I am very grateful to my friend Estee Solomon Gray for both introducing me to Limmud, and all of the work she put in over the years to make the event successful.
Last weekend my wife and I went to the Beth Am Asilomar Retreat. It was a wonderful weekend of Jewish learning and Jewish community. I had a revelation while Rabbi Sarah Weissman was teaching us Talmud: Many people say that I am a very good facilitator. I realized that when I am facilitating, I am channeling Rabbi Sarah’s method – there is never a wrong answer, no matter how “out there” a comment might seem at first glance. She infuses enthusiasm, creativity, and insight in the groups she facilitates, and we all walk away feeling empowered. I thanked Rabbi Sarah, and we had a nice chat. In those moments of conversation, I was anything but overwhelmed.
This experience inspired me to share a Mussar Practice. With it, you too can beat overwhelm with Jewish Wisdom.
****Here’s the Practice****
Speak in the name of someone. Pirkei Avot 6:6 lists 48 ways of acquiring Torah. One is “Saying a thing in the name of one who said it.” Or put another way, give credit where credit is due. This practice reminds us not take for granted the good things in the world. They often have an origin, and in fact a person who brought them about. It also is a way to remind us that we did not get where we are on our own. Recognizing those who taught us, even small things, is a path towards both connection and order in the universe.
Take a few moments to think about some of your “go to moves” that make you successful. Who did you learn them from? Find a way to thank that person, and name them to others. For example, be sure to let people know whose recipe you are using, or who taught you the technique that helped you solve a problem at work.
In each of the stories I shared above, connecting with others was a path out of overwhelm. And what better way to connect with others than to recognize a teacher? In Pirkei Avot 1:6, Yehoshua ben Perachia says, “Make for yourself a mentor, acquire for yourself a friend and judge every person as meritorious.”
Speaking in the name of your teacher is a step on the path for friendship and mentorship. And if your teacher is no longer alive, you make their memory a blessing by invoking their name with what they taught you.
Please begin this practice by sharing the name of a teacher below, and what they taught you.