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{Originally posted to Rabbi Weinberg’s website, The Foundation Stone}

The desires of the heart are as crooked as corkscrews
Not to be born is the best for man
The second best is a formal order
The dance’s pattern, dance while you can.
Dance, dance, for the figure is easy
The tune is catching and will not stop
Dance till the stars come down with the rafters
Dance, dance, dance till you drop.
W.H. Auden, “Death’s Echo”

Just more than a week ago I was sitting in mourning. I emerged from my mourning and wandered in a daze until Isaiah spoke to me on Shabbat and offered words of consolation. Today, I am back to life as it is, with its joys and challenges.

How could I possibly handle all these different emotions on top of the complexities of life?

I dance with them.There are times I dance in formal steps and patterns, according to the rules. Some dances demand the formality, especially when sharing the floor with other dancers. However, the dance from mourning to comfort to joy to comfort to life, and then, to who knows what next, is far more complicated than the Tango or Salsa. It is, for me, a free-form dance to express the different emotions, but even more so, how I experience the chaotic fluctuations from one emotion to another. I do not dance to the formal steps but to how my inner music plays out its response to life’s calendar and challenges.

People often express wonder how I can teach in a very “religious” neighborhood one day, and a completely secular community the next. They assume that I am simply dancing a different tune on different days and in different communities. They are wrong! I do not dance a different step to the very different tunes of extremely different communities. Nor do I dance different steps to different holidays and commandments; a slow dance on Tisha B’Av, say, and a joyous step six days later on Tu B’Av. It is all one dance; the Dance of Life, the dance that expresses my response to life. There are no formal steps to my dance other than being in touch with how I feel and what I want to express at any given moment. The dance is an expression of my joy in life, and my small response to its many realities and revelations.

This week’s portion, Eikev, or “Heel,” begins, “This shall be the reward when (Eikev – Heel) you hear these laws and perform them.” Why the heel? Dance Steps. The Dance of Life. “This will be the reward when you dance to these laws and express how they affect you,” is how I interpet the verse.

The key word in this weeks portion is “Hear.” it is a challenge to listen to the music of life, the song of the Torah as it guides us through life. The portion reminds us of the importance of expressing how our ‘heels’ respond in the Dance of Life to our experiences on every level.

This portion also stresses the importance of love, as if to say, “Above all, let your love envelope you in your dance: God’s love for you, your love of God, your love of family, your love of self.”

Remember: Love is the greatest adventure of them all, and our Dance of Life should reflect that.

When and if it does, our Dance of Life becomes not only a thing of enjoyment, but a thing of beauty.

Dance with me to: Chipping Away The Pieces, help me dance my way out of Stuck in a Role and The Fear Underneath, so I can nurture The Question Machine.

Shall we dance?

Shabbat Shalom (The Dance of Life is permitted and encouraged on Shabbat!)


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Rabbi Simcha L. Weinberg, is founder and President of the leading Torah website, The Foundation Stone. Rav Simcha is an internationally known teacher of Torah and has etablished yeshivot on several continents.