David always had an internal checklist of his perfect woman. He said that he had various clues about her that were all jumbled up in his psyche – to the point where he could not clearly identify her. He said he was hoping for a certain feeling…
His lack of binah would have been laughable in someone else, but just irritated me to no end. Some of the items on his list were, and I quote: My zivug will be named Rivka. (Later he rescinded that confession and changed it to: his future daughter will be named Rivka.), My zivug will wear size 8 1/2 shoes. (I wear size 8 1/2 shoes!), My zivug will love Shabbes. (I love Shabbes.), [editor’s note: find the original list and post]
And the ultimate quality, the apex of the list… “My zivug will teach me Torah.”
You went to yeshiva for 12 years and now you write 2,000 page books about Moshiach; and you expect your zivug to teach you?! That is so unreasonable.
One afternoon, David and I were in Tzfat Cemetery, visiting the Arizal’s kever. I don’t remember why. There were several days a year that were superhuge gatherings in Tzfat for people who wanted to pray at the Arizal’s grave; but this wasn’t one of those days. I remember that the cemetery was not crowded. David and I were discussing a recent visit to Meron where I prayed by the kever of Rav Shimon bar Yochai and his son, Rav Eleazar. Inside the building, there are two marble blocks which measure about 8 feet long by 3 feet wide by 6 feet high (as a guesstimate); and they are blanketed with heavy tapestries. I mentioned to David that people drape themselves on the marble blocks and cry out in prayer, but their focus is in the wrong place. Actually the tzaddik’s body is buried below ground, roughly ten feet below the stone. I witnessed David have an epiphany and he remarked in his sharp tone that he reserves for judgements about the world that, “Their kavanah is wrong.” Then he said that he would mention it in his blog. Well, damn! For him to say that he deemed something worthy of his blog was the greatest compliment on Earth. His blog in Israel was only about Moshiach, with a particular emphasis on increasing our yearning for Him (Moshiach).
I never missed an opportunity to remind David that I, Rivka, had just taught him something from our Torah. I remember that I had a goal to teach him six new things because I thought that if I could teach him six small Torahs, he would admit publicly that we were zivugim. This lesson about the kever was number three. I ticked off on my fingers. “So far this week, I taught you x, y, and now z. That’s so great.” It seemed obvious to me that he should put 2 and 2 together and wake up to the truth that I was his zivug! But, no. As usual, I got no reaction. My words simply did not penetrate his heart or his mind. It did not register that I just taught him another small Torah. He made me so frustrated!
Binah – very hard to translate this word. Binah is an understanding that comes directly from Hashem. You comprehend because God wishes you to comprehend.
Tzaddik – a Torah sage who was holy in their lifetime and frequently became known for performing miraculous healings.
Arizal – Rav Yitzhak Luria, a great Kabbalist Tzaddik of Tzfat.
Kavanah – spiritual intention.
Kever – grave or burial cave.
Torah – in this sense, a teaching from Hashem that elucidates Jewish faith or practice.
Question: Why do people pray at the grave of a dead tzaddik?
Jews are forbidden in the Torah to pray to or worship the dead. We only pray to Hashem Yitborach. However, the place where a tzaddik is buried is a place that contains holiness. To stand at the tzaddik’s kever and pray to Hashem is like standing in a spotlight of love or like standing at the foot of a ladder. Of course your prayers can and will ascend from anywhere; but from the gravesite of a tzaddik , your prayer ascends with extra oomph. If you get the opportunity to pray from a kever, I suggest you embrace it.
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