Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Theatre of the Mind

My phone rang in the theatre whilst I was enjoying a musical in just around the corner from Covent Garden in London. There is a special place in hell for people like me. Horrified that my phone was ringing, I leapt out of my seat, past the angry ushers bearing down on me and escaped in to the almost empty bar.

“Hallo?” a familiar voice shouted down the phone. “Dis is Rabbi Bar-zel Arieh Tzion. Am I speaking with Shimon Tomski?”

“This is Simon Tomasi,” I replied in as calm a voice as possible whilst trying to get my breath back. “How may I be of assistance?”

“You know dat question that I sent you last week by the email, the one about the quote from Sotah that a heavenly voice announces 40 days before the birth that the soul of such und such will marry the soul of such und such. “ He paused to make sure that I was keeping up with his rapid flow of words. “Well, how does that fit with people getting divorced, nu? If we all have a beshert, that special someone we’re destined to marry, where does it go wrong?”

I thought about it for a moment. The music from the show came through in a muffled fashion and it was a terrific show. Also, my wife had looked none too pleased that on the one occasion in over a year that we’d gone to see a show – I’d been foolish enough to answer a call. Particularly a call from Rabbi Bar-zel Arieh Tzion.

“Can I answer this another time please Rabbi? I’m in the middle of watching a musical?” I tried not sound too much like a boy who’d lost his homework.

“A show?” he asked sounding rather excited. “How wunderfull. Please Shimonele, go back in and watch the show. Meditate on how the people on the stage are like the voices and images we see in our meditation. Make a theater of the mind that mirrors what you see in the show.”

With that he hung up and I went back to watch the remainder of an excellent musical about a little girl who was much cleverer than her parents and head mistress.

Later that night I called the Rabbi back with an answer to his first question.

“The explanation that I’ve heard about why people don’t marry ‘the one’, their soul mate, is because they have not lived up to their full potential. If they were the best that they could be – then when the two souls meet it all works out for the best. But if people fail to reach their full potential then they end up with the person who is more suited to their current level.” The Rabbi chuckled. “Ah, I see you’ve been reading about shidduchs and such a like. Yes that is de reason people are told. Dis is not always what they want to hear, but you must understand that the choices you made to be where you are at – that determines what opportunities are available and who you will encounter.”

I waited for him to explain further. Creating awkward pauses worked on most people but Rabbi Tzion was no fool. He waited me out too.

“OK,” I said after a lengthy pause. “How does this relate to the meditation you asked me to do in the theatre?”

“Acha!” He exclaimed in delight. “You are wundering, are the people in the theater of your mind parts of your conscious and unconscious mind. Or are they spiritual entities, malachim or shedim [angels or demons] that clothe themselves in the forms that your mind generates? Dat is the shailah! [question]”

It no longer surprises me that Rabbi Tzion can read my mind. I hardly notice it these days. “Yes,” I answer carefully. “And what are you?” I start to visualize the four letter name of the Divine referred to in literature as tetragrammaton. The theater in my mind dissolves. The two dimensional image of the letters feeling more real than any imagined three dimensional image ever could.

The phone line has gone silent. Rabbi Tzion is gone. I look at the screen on my phone, there are no active calls.