Emunah in the Subway
The NYC Subway is part of my daily routine. I’ve had to constantly work on my Emunah to accept this encounter with the NYC underground world. It IS a world unto itself. I’ve arrived to the realization that in order to survive the dis-comfort I must not resist, but embrace this reality. (Although in the sweltering heat of the summer, I admit this is a super-human challenge).
As soon as I enter that dark tunnel, I’m in “protective mode”. Most people just plug in to their devises and focus inward. I’m so accustomed to ignoring and blocking unpleasant stimuli down there in the darkness. I routinely close my senses… Sight: the dirt and rats; pritzus. Sound: people talking and swearing (just heard an angry bitter tirade yesterday that I had to literally run away from), sombrero guitar players (I marvel at their happy countenance). Touch: the closeness and touching of strangers (potential to openness to humans-created in H’s image). Smell: sometimes so foul, must change subway cars.
However, sometimes during this underground trek, I will encounter a subway performer … an opera singer or a violinist. And occasionally I will acquiesce to a moment of blissful mindfulness. Allowing a beautiful melody to pass through the window of my consciousness.
I recall the lesson of Rav Doniel Katz - to find the light from within the darkness. To approach the Da’as Elyon / higher- consciousness to access the G-dly reality. This has the potential to shine the brightest light.
And then as Rav Itamar Schwartz taught (on Emunah Day 2018 ) to arrive at the Da’as of not even distinguishing between the light and the dark. Because they both are ONE and the same.
As I prepare to enter the under world once again, I focus on the good/tov. As Rav Arush teaches, “Say ‘Thank You H’ for everything - even your seat’”. Yes, I do that every day which I am zoche to procure a precious seat. I close my eyes, say Baruch H’!, sing Tehillim and open the door (a crack) to perceive the passageway of vast opportunities of gratitude and allowing the light in...
I observe, focus and recognize awesome scenes of chesed. People offering their prized seat... Men getting up for women; youth for older people. People actually squabbling over being mevater their seat saying “no that’s ok - YOU sit!” It’s incredible. Mamash, light in the darkness.
I sometimes remember to take the liberty to smile. An incredibly huge (and easy!) chesed! It’s astonishing how people mirror my smile and smile back. What a simple gift of light and spreading of gratitude!
So as I enter my daily journey and submerge myself into the depth of the inner metropolis, I smile and thank H’ for these daily opportunities of connection / hisbodedus / gratitude.