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book in Hebrew

Counting the Omer with

Day 12 — Settledness

Yishuv • ישוב

By Judith Zaruches, Phoenix, Arizona

Rabbi Monique Mayer, Port Talbot, Wales
Rabbi Monique Mayer,
Port Talbot, Wales

It sounds so simple. Yishuv — to settle one’s mind. Rabbi Simcha Zissel Ziv, the Alter of Kelm, said, “A person who has mastered tranquility of mind has gained everything.” So true. When my mind is calm I think clearly, I make wise choices, I am content and happy.

The question is, how do we get there, to this state of tranquility, to peace of mind? The Hebrew root of Yishuv is yud-shin-vav, which means “to sit.” This seems a good place to start. The first step is to cease activity and settle the body. This can be problematic as there are many distractions that compete for our attention. We each have our own favorites — shopping, work, Facebook, family. I can get lost for hours meandering through TED talks. One choice that works for me is to remove external distractions by going outside in nature, such as my backyard, with no devices nearby. What obstacles get in your way of sitting quietly and what can you do to remove them?

Our body is still, and yet our mind is active and noisy. Now we have to contend with the distractions of the internal environment. We may discover that thoughts and emotions continually bubble up. This inward aspect of settling can be challenging. We visit the past, review the present, and make plans for the future. Sometimes the cacophony in our heads is the result of a middah that is out of balance. Last week fear hijacked my mind. Sitting quietly and praying, trust replaced fear as I practiced bitachon, giving my troubles to HaShem, and my mind settled. Yishuv. What middah blocks your path to inner ease?

As we become familiar with these moments of tranquility removed from the bustle of life we will be better able to access Yishuv in the midst of challenges throughout our day.

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