The journey began with doubt and a little trepidation. We were in Jerusalem, Israel. Nearing the end of 2016. It was the second morning of Rosh Hashanah davining (prayers). One of my closest friends in the world, a King of Compassion and a Powerhouse of Emunah (faith/trust in g-d), the ever-mighty and ultra holy Lorenzo-san, insisted that I join him with his Rebbe. I had been with the Beala Rebbe in LA before and although I appreciated the connection my dear friend had to this eccentric being, I felt like the way the Rebbe practiced wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. I knew deep in my heart that Lorenzo-san only wanted what was best for me, and that he would never ever consciously lead my astray, yet I feared the possibility of getting stuck in an environment where I felt uncomfortable and disconnected on one of the holiest days of the year. A day where I truly wanted my prayers to be inscribed in the book of life. A day where we are meant to to strengthen our emunah to the highest level and recognize g-d as the one and only creator, the perpetual sustainer of all systems, as everything we see and experience and the architect of all worlds seen and unseen.
Another super close friend, my travel companion, the King of Gevalt & Geshmack, holy holy Roey Yakov Kimia, also thought it would be an unparalleled opportunity to connect to the Beala Rebbe whom he loves. So, I succumbed to their will and with the fire of my two comrads fueling my wayward spirit, I chose to let hashems wings take me where I needed to go.
Roey and I headed towards Mayarat Sharim, from Nachlaot fairly early. It felt a bit too early because I did not exactly hold back on the l’chaims (blessings/drinks) the previous night… we had been celebrating in the highest form imaginable. It had been the 2nd of two epic dinners we had with our holy chevre (circle of holy friends) celebrating the crowning of hashem and the eradication of judgment, complete with blessings and meditation. And lots of drinks, baruch hashem.
We walked over a nearly deserted bridge. The streets where quiet in the holy city of Yerushaliam on the holiday. We reached an unknown area and began to ask random people where we could find the Beale Rebbe. Finally, after weaving through some smaller streets and being helped by an assortment of holy individuals, we met an eight-year old girl who clearly wanted to lend us a hand but didn’t really have a clue how. I remember gazing into her dark eyes as she nervously bit her lip and pointed us in a random direction. She smiled at us and waved as we walked away. Perhaps it was her kindness that led us because somehow we reached a tiny park nestled between some buildings. In front of it, there was an exploding array of fuchsia bougainvillea flowers and the entrance to the shul (temple) of the Beale Rebbe.
Upon entering the shul, I felt a fluttering in my sternum. I immediately could sense a great spiritual movement, a liquid flow of energy spiraling around us. I’m not sure if I’ve ever felt anything quite like it. I spotted Lenny (the epic younger brother of Lorenzo-san), who is literally an pillar of chesed (loving-kindness) and light. His face lit up like the sun when he saw me and I received a huge hug. Then I found a spot to start my prayers, almost right next to the Beale Rebbe himself.
I don’t consider myself to be a particularly religious Jew and I was struck that in his very own shul, someone like me (who is not so “religious”) bore the merit to be praying so close to the Beale Rebbe. I know that what lies on the inside is what is truly important, yet I was also aware that my exterior style made me stick out a little. I was wearing my signature painting hat, covered with striations of white paint, dabs of yellow, blue and gold. I also was wearing white button down and dark jeans, sporting black pumas speckled with white & blue paint of my own design. Praying next to me, and filling the shul, were among what appeared to be some of the most religious Jews on the planet. Their peyots (side-locks) spiraled down beside tumultuous beards, their clothing a conservative white and black or all white. In addition to my appearance, I’m also a beginner in terms of traditional praying. I’m only just learning hebrew and I get quickly lost in services. So I generally resort to just focusing on a few lines of prayer and singing, which I find is one of the highest gateways to connect to g-d. Sometimes, when g-d it wills it, I also experience visualizations.
As I started shuckling (rocking one’s body in a meditative trance) to activate the movement of liquid in my cerebral cortex, which is what I imagine shuckling does, I closed my eyes and listened to unfamiliar melodies. I had never heard these songs of prayer before. Yet, when I opened my mouth, I seemed to know them. My soul knew. My soul remembered. And so I sang. I sang with the conviction and love. I sang to shatter the shell of my ego. I sang to connect and cleave to g-d.
At one point, the visuals started. First it was my own body. I felt like my shoulders were dissolving. Molecules and energy primarily from my right shoulder and then my left shoulder were being drawn upwards to the higher realms. I saw a vision…. a staircase climbed up a celestial landscape. Marble steps ascended upwards through miles of cumulous clouds. Light blue and grey hues shifted within the belly of the clouds that tumbled over one another, gently moving.
The steps led to an arched gateway. Within the gateway there were stairs that descended into darkness. I saw myself from behind, just a shadow, entering the gateway and I was swallowed by the dark. I disappeared.
Perhaps we must move down into the lowest levels of darkness to transform ourselves, to truly heal. Somehow, as my intentions were pure, light pulsed outward and lower realms appeared to be rectified. I did not see the lower realms being restored but I sensed that this was happening.
Then I appeared on a higher platform, still within the clouds. A waterfall, twenty meters high, cascaded downwards to my right. The source of the water was unclear. A juniper tree sprung up from the cloud base to the left of the falling water. A white rabbit hopped three times about the base of the tree, then remained motionless save for its twitching ear. The waters parted like a curtain, revealing mounds, piles and piles of unmarked gold coins. I began to kick the piles and as the coins tumbled through the clouds and down to the lower realms, pillars of light leapt upwards, complimented by symphonic sounds. I realized that these gold coins were tzedakkah (gifts to charity). I kicked over as much gold as possible, knowing that time was short. The symphonic resonance and the beams of light flashed. All too soon, there was no more time. The pieces of gold that I did not kick over sprouted into tiny trees. I continued up the marble stairs, up through the clouds to the next platform.
A niggun, a wordless melody, greeted me as I came to a large table made of yellow fire filled with some of my closest friends in the world. It was a shabbas table, and the fiery yellow figures, whose features were unclear, lifted fiery chalices and said l’chaims (cheers/blessings) celebrated, and feasted in a state of bliss. An unbound joy arose from the table, from this close gathering of souls and I felt simcha (divine joy), building within me. As I joined them, connecting to the glory of g-d and the happiness of true freedom. I looked up and saw an angelic being towering above us, a thousand m
eters high. This daunting entity was both terrifying and awe-inspiring. It was also was made of a golden fire, its wings stretching high into celestial realms. Despite its size and power, I saw how this angel was only the tiniest sliver of the “body” of g-d. G-d is infinite and beyond words, beyond concepts, beyond anything physical and this angel only represented the tiniest fraction of G-d’s might.
Above the angel there was a prism of colors that seemed to be shifting perpetually. Floating through the sky, rotating around other unseen structures, was a ball of fire. I do not know what these symbols mean, it is just what I saw.
Then, my gaze returned to the platform and landed on a female being standing near the bottom of the steps. She was also made of yellow-white fire, enswathed in robes with a single lock of hair dangling in front of her face. Though again, I could not see her features, she emanated unparalleled beauty. I approached her and she kissed me on the cheek and then leaned forward and nibbled by left ear. I knew that this was my soulmate. I have no idea what the ear-nibbling was about but I just knew that this was the girl that I had been searching for. This was the girl with whom I would finally build a family. I looked up and, cheesy as it may be, I saw two lion cubs rolling around in the clouds, pawing and biting one another. They were playing, tumbling over one another drawing wisps of clouds with them which dissolved. I could only imagine that these would be our future kids, baruch hashem.
And then the vision dissolved and I was back in the shul, singing and praying alongside of Lenny, Roey, and of course, the Beale Rebbe. I felt a warm hand on my shoulder and turned to see that Lorenzo-san had entered the shul as I had been lost in my visions. The Beale Rebbe was so close to me and the electrifying energy of the service continued to feed my spirit.
Now, I am back in Los Angeles, California. The holy resonance of this prayer experience on Rosh Hashanah continues to strengthen my resolve to pray and seek ever-deepening connections with the divine. I also have a deep love and respect for the Beale Rebbe. I know that it was his energy that created the environment for my soul to fly. He also gave me a specific “prescription” of prayer for me to find my soulmate. I am engaging in these prayers every day. I am grateful for him, for Lorenzo-san, Roey, Lenny and my community here in LA and in Israel. I also am excited with the opportunity to share this story. May your prayers shatter boundaries and may your soul taste the nectar of the highest realms!!!