I first came to Mayanot in June 2012 for the summer program as an 'unexpected arrival'. I was on the verge of losing my faith in humanity, faith in myself, even my faith in G-d. Now, I am not a changed or completely different person, but rather a refined version of who I always was.
How does one sum up an experience like Mayanot? Are we just learning more about Judaism? No, it is so much more than that. We are reclaiming who we always were, finding out where we want to go from here, and focusing on how to attain that.
If I were to write a letter to my soul, it would go something like this:
I haven't quite figured out if this is a letter of apology, or one of validation.
I'm sorry for everything that I've put you through; the endless hours of contemplation, introspection and for the difficult life questions. I'm sorry if your ego got hurt or deflated more than once, but it was bound to happen.
There's an old saying at Mayanot: 'Leave your ego in the waste basket.'
I'm sorry if you felt lost or confused on more than one occasion. Nonetheless, what you must come to grips with is that I'm really not sorry at all. Every moment of this experience was extraordinary.
When I look at photographs of the women who grace the walls of Mayanot, I see women who not only came to study, I see souls. I see journeys. I see significant pieces to a puzzle. I see Mayanot as a binding landscape.
These women are the reason why we can thank Mayanot for these past years of learning. These women took a leap of faith because they believed in this learning institution.
I ask you: for isn't man likened to that of a tree? As a tree of the field, it's surrounded by other trees and it receives its sustenance from the source of the wellsprings.
As people, we hope to grow and learn to be ourselves as strong individuals while being part of a great populous at the same time.
Always remember that when people hurt you, or try to discourage you from your mission in life, don't allow it to make you hard or closed. Being able to love and be receptive is a priceless gift that needs to be shared.
There are those people who just 'don't get you', and some who feel that you just don't belong — such people exist. But who cares? This is your journey, our journey. We get to decide which way we're going. Always choose to be happy — G-d runs the world! And we choose how to handle the moments bestowed unto us.
One learns to love through action. Ignite the spark of one person, and you can light up the whole world. Every person has blessings within them, and we have the power to make them a reality.
Moments in life are epic. Each contains an aspect of nirvana. Sometimes such moments can feel vast, making us feel that we're too frail, or too mortal, or perhaps that we can't contain it all. But we can. Those experiences are ours. We should own them — no regrets, because everything is connected.
As we move on to our next adventure, we may not be taking everyone and everything with us physically, but we are taking the memories. We are taking the serious learning, the spirituality, and the sisterhood. We will take the essence of Mayanot wherever we go in our lives. It will remain a part of us always.
What you feel now is transitory, but what you know is forever. Maimonides states that, "Hashem is the knower, He is the known and He is knowledge itself." Each of us emulates an aspect of Torah.
A drop of water contains an ocean. Love this moment. Fall in love with the life that G-d gave you. Remember, we don't have a soul. We have a body. We are a soul.
Do you remember the time before we were born? The time when we took that oath saying that we would come into this world and fulfill our mission? Or how about the time we were in the womb and knew the whole Torah — backwards and forwards — all four levels of Torah, the 70 faces, the deep cabalistic secrets, commentary, you name it, we knew it all!
All of the sudden this angel showed up just before we were born and touched us above our lip, giving us our philtrum and making us forget everything. And so we were born, and we knew nothing. Hence, it became our mission to relearn it all in life.
There are 70 faces of the Torah. The Sefer Torah is within each and every one of us waiting to be rediscovered. A multitude of life's paths. Discover yours.