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The Jewish Art of Reflectology

May 9, 2009 | by Danny Verbov

How to preserve your sanity and reach the ultimate purpose of life.

When compared to many other homeopathic remedies, reflectology is remarkably Jewish. The name reflectology comes from two meanings of the word 'reflect'; one being to "go back in thought, meditate, or consult with oneself," and the other "show image of, reproduce to eye or mind, exactly correspond in appearance or effect to."

The Jewish people have always been a thinking people; a people operating by intellect and not by emotion; a people in constant consultation with God and a people involved in constant self-examination and soul-searching, to grow closer to truth, to understand life.

Part of this process is how we perceive reality. Does the Jew see things like everyone else? Does the Jew see only the superficial, only the packaging, only the show, or does he see something deeper, something beyond, something eternally meaningful? Indeed, Jewish tradition trains us -- to paraphrase the second definition above -- to reproduce physical images in spiritual terms.

For example: What is the reason for the blue fringe in the tzitzit?

Because blue is the color of the sea, and the sea is like the sky, and the sky is like the Throne of Glory," and when we remember Who sits on the Heavenly Throne, then "we remember all God's commandments and we do them." (Talmud - Menachot 43b, quoting Numbers 15:39)

The Jew is to constantly extract the real truth hiding within.

Blue is not just any old color, just as five or eight are not just numbers; five are the Books of Moses, and eight are the days of the circumcision, as we sing at the end of the Passover Seder. In Judaism, nothing is taken at face value. There is always deeper meaning and associations to be found. The role of the Jew is to constantly remind himself that this world is, as the Talmud says, an "alma dashikra" -- a world of falsehood, and to painstakingly extract the real truth hiding within. This is the art of reflectology.

Let us try to apply the art of reflectology to some current events:

The security situation in Israel. Bitachon means physical security in Hebrew, but bitachon can also mean "trust in God." When you begin to see the whole situation as a function of each Jew's trust in God, things begin to take on a completely new perspective. It has little to do with the Palestinians or Ariel Sharon; it's all about our individual and collective relationship to God.

Disengagement. This teaches us how to release from something tying us down. Are you frustrated, anxious, scared, pressurized? Disengage yourself from negativity and think positive, do something you enjoy. Trust in the Almighty's unlimited power and desire to create everything for our ultimate good.

Targeted assassinations. Focus on the goal. The IDF operates on the principle of preserving life wherever possible, hence its pinpoint operations and the relatively low loss of civilian life. How often do we deal with the peripheries of life, the easy way out, the little mundane chores, instead of thinking of our real priorities? When we target our own goals in life, our focus is clear and we don't need to trouble ourselves with irrelevancies, or waste unnecessary time, money and energy in following targets that don't bring us closer to the goal.

How often do we take the easy way out, instead of addressing our real priorities?

The security fence. Keeping out undesirable, dangerous elements in order to preserve life. The whole essence of Judaism is distinguishing between the pure and the impure, between the holy and the profane, the physical and the spiritual. What is true and what is false? Who is right and who is wrong? Which values do we want to teach our children, and what don't we want them to absorb? Have we identified those things we want in our lives, and those things from which we need to distance ourselves? Have we set up personal "fences" to ensure they do not enter?

Maccabi Tel Aviv wins the EuroLeague European Basketball Championship. Yes, reflectology can be applied to anything. Europe's most popular sport is soccer, played with the feet in the main, and the players must look down to keep their eyes on the ball. Israel excels in basketball, a game that requires looking up in order to score. When the Jewish people look up to the Almighty, they are assured of victory, as was proven many times in the Torah, the most famous being the war with Amalek (Exodus 17:11). As Moses raised his hands, the Jews looked heavenward and excelled.

In a world full of distortion, terrorism, hypocrisy, double standards and selfish interests, the Jewish people must become astute practitioners in the art of reflectology. What is happening in Israel and the world cannot be taken at face value. The physical is merely a reflection of the spiritual.

September 11 taught the world not to be sure of anything. Politicians come and go; evil just replaces itself in new garb. Once it was Haman, then Hitler, and now Hamas.

Where do the Jewish people turn for help and hope?

Significantly, the only twin towers that do remain steadfast, reliable, unchanging, and true to their purpose -- after thousands of years of a turbulent world -- are God's Torah and His Creation. If we would just practice some reflectology on that, it could preserve our sanity, and keep us on track to the ultimate purpose of life.

Dedicated to the memory of Tali Hatuel, 34 and her daughters Tehila, 11; Hadar, 9; Roni, 7; and Meirav, 2, killed in a terrorist ambush on the Kissufim road in to the Gaza Strip on May 2, 2004, the day this article was written.

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