“She puts her hand to the spindle and her palm to the distaff.” I often wondered about this verse from Eishet Chayil (Proverbs 31). Spinning wool is not one of those womanly arts that too many of us have experienced. I was always fascinated by re-enactors at local fairs using a spinning wheel or a drop spindle. Their dexterity and the beautiful yarn coming from their fingertips spoke to me of womanly glory and quiet serenity. About five years ago I finally learned to spin with a drop spindle. My first attempts were sorry lumpy and bumpy creations. In spite of their lack of apparent beauty to me I persevered in this art. It was not easy but it was serene. It felt spiritual and quieted me when I felt on edge. The wool I spun into yarn felt like a connection, albeit a lumpy and bumpy one. My instructor assured me I would get better with practice and in a little time I too would be making fine yarn come from my fingertips. Then she looked a little wistful and told me that when that happened I would actually miss my lumpy, bumpy yarn creations. At the time I found that very hard to imagine, but it was true.
It reminds me of not so many years ago when I was learning to read the prayers from my siddur. I agonized with every letter and vowel. I wanted so much to pray in Hebrew, lashon kodesh, the holy tongue. I wanted to really connect with Hashem in this way. As I learned I felt the spirituality of the prayers connecting me to my Creator. I felt the serenity of time alone pronouncing each word, with such concentration, that I eagerly looked forward to my prayer time each day. It was not easy but it felt serene. It did not sound very beautiful to me but I was doing it. My teacher assured me that I would get better with practice and in time I too would be making fine brachot come from my lips. Then she too looked a little wistful and told me when that happened I would miss these days of absolute concentration and focus on each and every word. At the time I found that hard to imagine, but that too was true.
Now I spin quite well and can a rattle the morning brachot off in a couple of minutes. Although I don’t miss the lumpy yarn all that much, I do miss the focus I had in the beginning on my tefilla (prayer). Now, I have to work on maintaining concentration on what I am saying and the words that are coming from my lips. I have to work on pronouncing each letter and each word carefully.
I want the yarn of my prayers to come from a deeper place than just my lips. I want them to begin in the depths of my heart and flow from there. I want them to be slow and filled with the love I feel in my heart for my Father.
I have a question. Or three.
7 months ago