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Tuesday, June 28, 2022
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Hello.

Welcome to the Phineas Meditation Center, a meditation experience for those of the Jewish faith.

Have a seat. If you like, you can sit on that comfy chair, or perhaps that big pillow over there. Oh, you would prefer that folding chair? That sounds fine. Whatever works for you.

Would you like some green tea? Chai? A fruit shake? Perhaps a carob bar? Yes, all our products are certified kosher to the highest standards. We emphasize the strict observance of the commandments along with our meditation program.

The music? Oh, thank you. Yes, it’s sitar. A member of Yeshivat Aish HaTorah who has Indian mystical associations made the CD especially for us. We’re very proud of it. It’s on sale out in front if you’re interested. Yes, that is Dovid Melech Yisroel. You have a good ear.

Let me tell you about our Phineas Center. We offer many types of meditation programs here, depending on your orientation.

No, we are not Jewish Buddhists. As far as I know there are no known JuBus on the staff. Still, it’s hard to deny some Eastern influence if you teach meditation. Do you know what I mean?

There, you’re already looking more relaxed.

We emphasize meditation as a means for becoming closer with the Creator, the Source of Life. Our meditation methods are designed to infuse your daily Jewish practices with a deeper meaning. We don’t think successful meditation is the ultimate goal; it is only the beginning of your journey.

What is that? Oh, the smell? Yes, it’s Jewish aromatherapy. It’s a new line of products we just started offering. What you are presently experiencing is jasmine mixed with the aroma of challah dough and matzah ball soup. We call it “Shabbat Awakening.” That’s also available at our gift shop, if you like it.

We offer many programs of meditation. At present our most popular are the kabbalistic meditation programs. We teach Abulafian, with an emphasis on the Hebrew Aleph-Bet; Cordoverian, with concentration on the nekudot, the Hebrew vowels; Karoesque, with the mishnayot as your mantra and Chabadian, based on the Hitbonenut of Rav Dov Ber. But you seem a bit young for the kabbalistic approach. We usually recommend these courses only for people over 40.

Oh, so now you want to shift to the comfy chair? Of course, be my guest. I see you’re starting to pick up on the aura of peace that pervades our center. Relax, lean back. That’s good.

We do have yoga-like courses that integrate dancing and walking with meditation, but they’re not really Jewish in origin. It’s true that some people trace a movement-based meditation back to Rabbi Akiva, but not everyone is in agreement on this point. No, no, you don’t have to sit in the Lotus position for Jewish meditation.

Yes, continue to take those cleansing deep breaths. Very good.

We have lots of programs to help you get in touch with the moment. As a starter course, we recommend the Tehillim sessions, which integrate the chanting of psalms to start you on your journey. It creates a nice synergy with the text. There’s also a siddur course, that utilizes everyday prayers to set you on the right path. We also have a course that focuses on the sephirot, but that’s another kabbalah course. We had to cancel the Names of God class. The local rabbinate had some objections. We replaced it with the new Bittul HaYesh curriculum, which focuses on breathing and silence. It’s good for teaching you to leave your ego behind.

What was your question? Do we have any teachers that use crystals? No, we felt that was a little too close to avodah zarah, idol worship. We use no crystals or stones to augment the meditative state.

Good question. It’s called the Phineas Meditation Center in honor of Pinchas ben Elazar ben Aharon HaCohen. To us at the PMC, he is the model of where your spiritual journey should lead you.

Yes, you’re correct. He did commit a violent act. In a fit of zealotry Pinchas killed two sinners who were engaged in an inappropriate activity in front of the Ohel Moed, the Tent of Meeting. Can you imagine the agmat nefesh, the suffering, that committing that act caused to his psyche? It must have been terrible for him.

That is why God granted him inner peace. As a reward for his zealotry in the name of God, Hashem states hineni noten et briti shalom, behold, I give him my covenant of peace.

Many commentators feel that Hashem was granting him safety from those who might want to kill him for what he did, but the Netziv, Rav Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin, a deeply spiritual rabbi, states that Hashem granted him inner peace, to help him get over his trauma.

Can you imagine? A divine bestowing of inner peace. True, immediate transformation. That’s what all of us are seeking here at the Phineas Meditation Center.

What’s that? Yes, I’m feeling the energy in the room, too. I think you and I are experiencing the start of a relationship filled with positive energy.

Sure, have a carob bar. It’s on the house.

Larry Stiefel is a pediatrician at Tenafly Pediatrics.

By Larry Stiefel

Bamidbar 25: 12

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