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Running on Jewish Time

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Boy who Glowed

[Note: Number 5 of the Jew and the University, earlier installments consist of various vignettes describing elements of college life. A bit more self-searching.]

It is a widely known fact to all seminary girls and yeshiva bachurim that anyone in college is a immediately spiritually asleep or at least under heavy sedation. It is also known that while the nations may have the deep and subtle appreciation of the physical world that created the Sistine Chapel, for example and the sort of power and grandios ambition that attempted to build a wall around the world, in China or in England, the sophisticated and profound spiritual world is one the Jewish people tend to have entirely to themselves. Particularly in a Western World divided between fundamentalist literalism and secular existentialists.

So armed with such assurances, I set off into the secular world confident that philosophy and physical education requirements would pose much greater challenges that any form of spirituality that I might encounter.

So the shock I received as I turned around to deal with some inane comment on the brotherhood of the children of Abraham was not from the force of the argument but most simply stated...
The boy glowed.
No blazing halo above his head, just a simple clear radiance, a serenity, a peace.
The luminescence of shabbat candles and the faces of very young children, of purity.

How? Where did it come from? What had placed that radiance there? A quality that I had only learned to see and love in Isreal. How could it be that someone had acquired it here, in America and still possessed it on a college campus? And such a person was a goy!

... And I was barely hanging on to what I gained in Israel and my friends doing little better.

I cannot say I was brave enough to stay and talk to him and find out for myself; frankly I turned tail and ran.

Who was he? A devout believer in the ability of all the children of Abraham to join together, to understand one another, in rational discussion and the basic good of mankind.

The challenge he posed. Why can't this product of 14 years of Jewish education glow? Believe in the rational mind and brotherhood of all men.

Aside from the naivete that slowly cracked and fallen to shatter on the marble floor beneath my feet, as I counted my friends as they returned trembling, whispering bringing with them girls who were too shell-shocked from a bomb created by a person who wanted to kill us, the ordinary people, the ordinary Jews... but I digress.

Perhaps it was because I was hanging onto Israel, firm in the belief that
One who lives outside the Land, it as if he has no G-d.
That in college, it was impossible to grow, to be holy, to be a little glowing light.

All the more fool was I.

Where had all my teachers grown up and the books that I so loved been written and the songs that I hummed under my breathe been composed? Even the Torah was given elsewhere.

So what was the glow?
Chen is when G-d lets the soul hidden within each human body shine through. It's a gift. A person with Chen is not objectively better or worse, his soul is visible to all the world. The soul is always whole, always pure, always glowing.

For most of the world, the soul is a distinctly different realm than the body. The spiritual and the physical as far as the borders of the Universe and the ground beneath our feet. But what makes our people different is G-d told us,
Tehu li Mamlechet Kohanim v'Goy Kadosh.
You shall be for a me a nation of Kohanim, a people separated for a holy purpose.
A nation of Kohanim of those who prepare the physical world to receive spirituality. A nation who can turn eating, satisfying a physical desire into a spiritual act with matza and pesach, shuirim and kavana. Who look beyond the gross reality of a three-quarter ton of steaming bull to the transcendent reality known as a korban.

We have to be able to look and find the spiritual in that which does not have it yet. To make everything a service, a means to pull ourselves to closer to G-d. Recognize every glowing spark of His throughout world.

So the question is not so much how did the boy glow? G-d gave him the gift of a such a clear face that his soul shines right through. But how was it that I could walk the halls of my college, seeing hundreds of bodies every day, and not a single soul?


  • there is one such girl in one of my classes, but she's alight with a glow from doing what she wants to do in life which is teaching, so she's not that threatening.

    By Blogger Halfnutcase, at 7:25 AM, February 05, 2006  

  • I think we shouldn't wonder why there aren't more of such among us... instead we should just try to be that way for ourselves... do you agree? I just feel like we spend too much time looking at others. It IS frustrating that it should be among "them" though, and not enough amond "us". I totally hear that.

    By Blogger FrumGirl, at 12:34 PM, February 05, 2006  

  • There are people who glow I have seen it too the sick yellow glow of Tumah. It is not kedusha. Esther's face was green our belief is that the schina rests in a green light. Also, the glow of true tzadikim is not always seen on their face (unless they are praying and we are not allowed to look) it is seen through their actions they light sparks in the other person. Has it occurred to you that he was reflecting some of your sparks and sucking your energy? The glow you were seeing may have been your very own. If only we can see our own purity...

    By Blogger Littleredridinghoodie, at 5:20 PM, February 05, 2006  

  • lrh- that was depressing thank you. I would like to think that there are some people out there who glow without kedusha and yet not with tumah. I think there are. If we see these people and think they are just reflecting us, well maybe that is comfortable but it is definitely not true. We may glow but honey, it's not always with kedusha either.

    This was a really nice post, masmida. A while ago you were wondering what your purpose was. Maybe you found it. Maybe opening our eyes to all these things that we wouldn't get in the frum world, maybe that is it. Maybe it is that simple.

    By Blogger araya(uh-ray-uh), at 6:12 PM, February 05, 2006  

  • Masmida - Great point. The college environment is stereotyped as a non-spiritual ghetto. I think acceptance of this mentality has actually hurt returning Yeshiva and seminary students - when they show up on campus, they accept a "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" attitude. But there is no reason to be defeatist. The greatest challenges pose the greatest rewards.

    By Blogger Josh, at 9:53 AM, February 06, 2006  

  • Araya,
    Yes, I agree with you that some of us don't glow of Kedusha but I don't think Masmida is one of them. In this case it is quite likely that this guy was feeding off her energy. One can do that by just looking at a person's face.

    That is why a lot of Rabbis do not allow pictures and why we put them up in our homes.

    It is called Tzelem Elokim. Only Jews have a special Ohr Meikif (protective aura)Tzelem Elokim.

    The goyim have another Tzelem and that is what glows from their face. The tumah can not survive unless it steals from the kedusha.

    How ever "asleep" Masmida may think she is She is a Bat Yisrael Kesheira and should never forget that, it is only the evil inclination that my lead us to believe otherwise. Hang in there...

    By Blogger Littleredridinghoodie, at 5:30 PM, February 06, 2006  

  • I don't know, that's an interesting story, Masmida. I happen to know a girl with great, shining chen, but her problem was she let the world see too much of her soul, and she strayed too far. It's so sad, because someone with such light can enlighten others. The boy you saw glowing is probably a special person, in his own way. He sounds like he is trying to find his own truth and wants the world to be better. No harm in that, but he's looking in the wrong place...ain emes k'emes hatorah.

    By Blogger Okee, at 7:58 PM, February 06, 2006  

  • Where is God?

    Wherever you let Him in.

    (Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:09 PM, February 07, 2006  

  • [raises eyebrows] I vanish for two days....

    This guy wasn't a threat himself, I

    You're right, and this is where I started thinking in those terms.

    I don't get so complicated, nor do I know kabbalah well enough to speculate. But regardless of this particular individual, there is holiness among the nations and that is what my question was really about.

    [smile] Why is it we always look for complicated answers and sometimes its really just that simple?


    I am deeply flattered that you think so highly of me. But I am having great difficulty with the concept that Tzlem Elokim is restricted to the Jewish people. Last I checked all of us descended from Adam.

    Okee Jew-

    It's part of the great struggle that all of undergo. We only ever express only a level above that which we really know and chen, like beauty, is one of Hashem's more difficult gifts.

    Thanks, Kotzk is truth personified, but very hard to take.

    By Blogger Masmida, at 3:50 PM, February 07, 2006  

  • LRH: just want to point out that not all of the nations who have a glow have to come from tumah, at least al pi kabala they can come from klipas nogah, which is alright. if you look for the spark in someone, you will find it. and if that spark is shining on the outside, in a glowing shell, so much the better.

    (i was raised immersed in kabbala.) [smile]

    By Blogger Halfnutcase, at 6:56 PM, February 07, 2006  

  • Kotzk is truth personified, but very hard to take.

    That's what makes it the truth.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:06 PM, February 10, 2006  

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