בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, הַנּוֹתֵן לַשֶּֽׂכְוִי בִינָה
לְהַבְחִין בֵּין יוֹם וּבֵין לָֽיְלָה.
Baruh atah adonay eloheynu hey ha’olamim hanoten lasehvi vinah lehavhin beyn yom uvey laylah.
Blessed are you, The Provident, our God, life of all the worlds, who gives the bird of dawn to tell day from night.
Through this prayer from the traditional morning blessings, we consider how the rooster can awaken us to living a life of conscious intent. It reminds us of the duality of our existence...earth/heaven, soul/personality, good/evil, etc. But it also offers us the opportunity to discern the differences, the paradoxes that pervade our lives. The rooster challenges us to make choices with open eyes and a loving heart.
When I was 31, I was searching for the truth through every metaphysical subject I could devour. At the time, my spiritual mentor told me that I was quite young to be embarking on such a pursuit. As a college educated, suburban mother of two, already aching to begin a third career, I didn’t feel that young. But, she insisted that those who are interested in deepening their understanding of the universe, and becoming more conscious of their own internal workings, usually arrive for assistance in midlife. Though sufficiently flattered, I continued to pursue my most authentic self, thinking that I’d reached the pinnacle of spiritual awakening. I had moved through the dark night of the soul and survived, or so I thought. But, now, almost 20 years later, I clearly understand that my mentor was not correct. In reality, consciousness is an ongoing process that can begin at any age. In fact, when we embark on the path of awakening, we actually enter cycles of Exodus multiple times during our lives. We enter phases that author Sue Monk Kidd calls separation, transformation, and emergence over and over again, experiencing the pain and the awe as we change and, ultimately grow. And, each time we allow ourselves to enter the metamorphosis, we peel away another layer of the mask that covers our soul.
Rabbi Mordechai Gafni says that we each have a soul print. Like our fingerprint, it is a unique part of us, the part that gives us our individuality. Our soul print, unlike our personality, follows us around from lifetime to lifetime, learning and growing closer to the divine light. But, in our forgetting at birth, our soul print becomes hidden and our childhood is usually spent taking on imprints that are not our own. We must spend much time deciphering our soul print and figuring out how we can leave our indelible mark on earth. Each person that we encounter and each event in which we participate, assists us in unveiling our deepest truth.
Jewish mystical traditions give us the tools to pursue this challenging path. Through the study of Torah, we can learn from those who have come before us. Through connecting to the Tree of Life or the Sefirot, we can be guided through different stages of development. Through the concept of the four worlds, we can begin to understand the different aspects of our personalities. Through Jewish contemplative practice, we can train our selves to listen to the still small voice of guidance that is always available. And, through dream work, prayer, symbolism, story, and community, we can re-cover the ancient, spiritual gifts that Judaism has to bestow upon us.
And, every morning, while we may not live on a farm where the rooster crows, we have sechvi, our ancient awakening prayer, to remind us to greet each new day as a gift that can propel us towards growth.