heart, mind.

The mind is the leader of the heart, but the two are a team. If the mind treats the heart like a tyrant relates to a captive, there will be no peace for either. It is not as if the mind knows wisdom and the heart has only desires; the heart has its own kind of wisdom as well, which the mind can’t produce but really can pair up beside.

Sometimes we can follow our hearts tentatively, indefinitely, while allowing our minds to dictate when it is time (if ever) to make a commitment to something. Sometimes we can’t. Either way, it is important to be gentle on our hearts, and listen closely to any sincere desire that is inside.

Until very recently, I thought that the choice to embrace Torah is different for a born Jew than for a gentile who chooses to join the covenant. If a person feels like they have a high level of reason to listen to Torah, and yet they still question the truthfulness of their own feelings and perception… then if they are Jewish and love God they would keep the Torah, because of the risk that they could be breaking God’s commandments. A gentile, on the other hand, isn’t obligated in that way and might need to use their ability to really question and be sure that belief in Torah is not obscuring real knowledge of God, or causing them to make ethically wrong decisions. But now I have realised that a person who chooses to convert, who comes to a place of saying “I will do it without question,” can only do so if they have the same response to Torah in their heart as a born Jew does. The born Jew actually does more than just try to mitigate risk. And the convert basically recognises their place in the covenant rather than simply choosing it.

My heart hears so much in Torah and I desire to embrace it. My mind sees it as very likely, but I’m also confused about my bearings and my own ability to feel or think accurately about this revelation claim. I have learnt that my thought process is almost choking my heart out, and that my mind is too weary to think straight from bearing in constantly on the small possibility of Torah coming from, and being preserved by, any other reason than Hashem. So I want to share this in case anyone is in a similar situation.

One option here seems to be living as a Noachide, just spending time with the Jewish community to enjoy its light without analysing it, and focusing on the fact that despite the confusion of reality we are resting on God because He is our Maker. I could convert in the future, but won’t think about it in this stage of life. I would need to be in a place where although there may yet be a struggle, there is no need to ‘force’ the issue: just ‘naaseh v’nishma’. Another option is to do the same thing, but still allow my heart to make its investment in the desire to join the covenant, and so keep practising the mitzvos while still not planning to make a decision about conversion unless it is right. That second option risks blurring the separation between Israel and the nations, but perhaps not, because it is a true expression of a desire to connect into the heart and service of this people… if God allows it, and really is the One behind the testimony.

The main thing for right now is to rest, and give both heart and mind a chance to enjoy what is already made clear… reminding my heart to be joyful in its embraces, and my mind to be less bossy while learning wisdom. I think that we can become wiser as we go through experiences in life that reveal to us more the attributes of God’s way of relating with creation. So we should choose life, and live… by choosing to give Him the obedience He deserves… and by accepting the blessing of life in the first place.

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