I’ve been thinking lately about who I am, what I am, what I do, and how I do it. A sudden death – like that of my daughter’s best friend – will do that to you…make you look at your life and re-evaluate how you are living it.
During this process, I decided to take a look at a web site of a woman who offers trainings that certify people to be life or spiritual coaches. I’ve been known to call myself a life coach, a Jewish life coach or – my favorite – a Kabbalistic conscious creation coach. I haven’t ever taken a course to be deemed “qualified” as a life coach, but I have a minor in psychology, and I’m a certified rebirther and a voice dialogue facilitator. I also read Tarot – soon from a Kabbalistic standpoint. Plus, my three years in a weekly women’s spiritual support group (where we did more powerful processing than in any therapist’s or coach’s office, I can assure you), my co-leading of a women’s support group and my leading of another spiritual support group I think do, indeed, qualify me as a coach of one sort or another. That said, I sometimes find myself thinking I need some sort of “credentials” that make my coaching “real” or “valid,” which explains why I was interested in this person’s coaching certification. I have a strong desire to be in integrity, and sometimes I’m afraid I’ll be seen as a fake, although I come from a very real place when I coach.
The fact of the matter is that, while I rarely see clients anymore (not for lack of desire but for lack of marketing) I do a lot of coaching through my writing, teaching and speaking. And why do I feel qualified to coach from this platform? Because I see myself as a person who teaches what I need to learn. I see myself as an Everywoman, who teaches from a place of knowing that I am not much different from most other people, and what has worked for me will probably work for someone else – or at least give them a jumping off point to find something that does work for them.
Today, however, I realized that there is another reason why I feel qualified to coach in this manner: Because I have a Torah.
In Judaism there is a saying, “Everyone has a Torah.” What’s a Torah? Normally we think of the Torah as the scrolls containing the handwritten version of the Five Books of Moses, also known as the Old Testament. So, how can each person have a Torah? Well, the wisdom contained within those scrolls also is considered Torah. So, when we have wisdom of our own – a knowing deep inside about the truth of something – this is our Torah.
My writing, teaching and speaking most often represents a sharing of my Torah. It’s my own. No one else’s. (Well…as a journalist, I admit that I sometimes draw on the wisdom of others to support or to clarify my own beliefs.) So, maybe my Torah is tinged with the Torah of others, but as I add what they know to what I know, it becomes my unique Torah. And I’m the only one qualified to share that Torah with others or to use it to support them in their own spiritual or human growth and development.
That said, each person, indeed, has their own Torah to share. We are each such wise beings if we only allow ourselves to tap into that deep knowing that comes from our soul or from Higher Source.
When someone reads Torah – from the scroll – they use a small pointer that usually has a hand at the end with the index finger extended. This is called a yad, which, in Hebrew, means “hand.” Not only does this help them keep their place as they read, but it prevents the oil of their fingers from damaging the letters. While at an Aleph kallah a few years ago, I heard my teacher, Rabbi Moshe Aaron (Miles Krassen), offer a Torah – a teaching – that inspired me to want a yad, but not the kind used for reading Torah from the scroll. I wanted a “hand” to remind me of his teaching, which had nothing to do with reading Torah.
I didn’t find one, but in a Judaica shop I did see a tiny yad meant to be worn on a chain, but it was too expensive, and I didn’t purchase it. A year later I entered the shop again, and found that little yad still waiting for me in the display case – and the price was reduced making it possible for me to purchase it. I brought the yad even though it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. I just felt that it was meant to be mine.
A year later, I wore that yad to a class at the 2005 Aleph kallah. I had had several encounters with people in my class (which this time was taught by Rabbi Maria Prager) that had made me understand why I was supposed to have this particular yad. I realized that each time we listen to a person talk, we are hearing their Torah. The act of listening is like reading Torah. My little yad served (serves) as a reminder that we are always reading Torah – hearing other people’s stories, learning their lessons, receiving their wisdom. I shared this Torah with the class.
In true Kabbalistic form, as we receive someone else’s Torah, we must give ours in return. For each of us truly has a Torah. And maybe if we each really read each other’s Torah – listened to each other from the heart – and shared our own – spoke our wisdom and truth from the heart – there would be less conflict in our lives and in the world. And we would become a world of wise, wise people that understood each other well.
I imagine that the World to Come will be time when we all read and offer Torah on a constant basis. Must we wait for the Messiah to bring such a time into manifestation, or is it our own Inner Messiah that will change the consciousness of the planet to one of true Torah, true wisdom and happiness? It is said that the Torah is “a Tree of Life to all who hold fast to Her and all her supporters are happy.” As we acknowledge and give our own Torah while receiving the Torah of others, we plant, fertilize and strengthen the Tree of Life thus helping it to bear fruit for all – happiness.
If I just remember this, I realize I don’t need any more certification than I have. No one can – or needs to – offer me credentials to read and offer Torah. Who am I? A person with a Torah. What am I? A Torah — to be read and to be given. What do I do? I read Torah and I offer Torah. How do I do this? Happily from my heart and with my heart.