There are different kinds of broken hearts.
The kind that many of us experience occurs when someone we love dies, or a close relationship breaks
down. We are left with the deep emotions – and no outlet to direct or release them. The sadness can be
But there is another kind of broken heart. One that we experience but do not necessarily feel. One
that exists within us – but we are not fully conscious of its pain. This one, because we are not fully aware of it,
is even harder to heal. Just like with our bodies – sometimes we feel the pain but there are times when an
expert has to let us know what is actually going on within us.
I have been experiencing the second kind of broken heart for the last several weeks. Only last week, with the
sage advice of the Talmud and a few moments of reflection, did I become aware of it.
Why is my heart broken?
The time from Passover to Shavuot – 50 days – is the time of the calendar year that is especially devoted to
personal and spiritual growth. The time from the exodus of Egypt to the receiving of the Torah at Mount
The Talmud relates that prior to receiving the Torah – the Jewish people underwent a dramatic change which
enabled them to receive the eternal wisdom of the Torah. The change reflects how a spiritual experience is
conditional on human relationships and caring.
The change – the Jewish people healed their rifts and for a moment in history became unified. Or in the
language of the Talmud – the Jewish people became “like one person with one heart.” A whole, unified heart.
They overcame their many divisions and sensed their underlying oneness.
Right now we are reliving this time between Passover and Shavuot, these very 50 days of moving toward
“one heart”, toward overcoming separations and removing obstacles.
We need to ask ourselves: “Ayeka? Where am I in this process of moving toward oneness with the
many disparate parts of the Jewish people? What can I do to personally act in accord with this
process of healing rifts amidst the Jewish people? What step could I take to prevent this time of the
counting of the Omer from being just lip-service to actually becoming a time of personal and spiritual
And as I asked myself these questions it became ever more palpable and painful for me how distant I
personally was from this goal. There are many people within this family of the Jewish people that I
feel disconnected from; with whom I do not feel this heartfelt oneness.
In particular, as a Zionist living in Israel, the presence of groups of Jews living here who are non-Zionist or
even anti-Israel is often very difficult for me, engendering feelings of aversion and resentment. With one son
in the army and another about to go in – it is often very grating for me how whole groups of Jews do not
accept this responsibility and often do so in the name of God and Torah.
So I made a phone call.
Next week I am meeting with the Rosh Yeshiva (Director) of a non-Zionist yeshiva. I’ll try not to be
argumentative. I’ll try to be open and listening. The goal is not to prove a point or validate my
position. The goal is to heal a rift. It will be a challenge for me.
Making the heart whole, healing the brokenness – for an individual and for a people – is a huge spiritual
Questions for Reflection:
Who precludes your becoming “single-hearted” within the Jewish people?
What small step could you take to unify the Jewish people?
What do you think is holding you back from taking this step?
How would you feel about yourself if you could take it?