Elul 23 Messages

There are eight ways to practice the attribute of humility and each corresponds to a place on the body. (Moshe Cordovoro, Tamar Devorah)

The second practice is with one’s thoughts, as Cordovoro writes:

“Meditate and contemplate on thoughts of goodness, godliness, kindness.”

Once, in college, I took a class called “Speech and Diction.” My teacher was old (or so it seemed back then), very elegant, wearing a finely-made ladylike dress, always adorned with pearls, and lipstick perfectly shaping her words as she spoke. She spoke her syllables clearly and had perfect diction. I watched her and listened to the cadence of her lecture and was drawn into the possibility of elegant thought. Then one day she stood before us as if pronounce a great truth. Her small proper body stood center and all the rest was blurred background to her pronouncement. She said: elevate your thoughts. That’s it. Or at least that’s all that I remember. And I thought, really? We can control what we think? This phrase has hung in the air above my mind ever since. And from that day on I pay attention to the steady and… run on sentence of my thoughts and three or four times daily say to them, enough. Elevate your thoughts to the level of the person you want to be. Think love. Think patience. Think beyond judgment. Think about what you are thinking about. Our thoughts shape us, inspire us, urge us on, inform us, act upon our spirit overtly or surreptitiously. Humility touched the psalmist as he prayed for the acceptability of thought: May the meditations of my heart be acceptable to You, O God, my Rock and my Redeemer.