by Rabbi Howard Cohen
Rabbi Jacob taught: One who is reviewing his [Torah] studies while walking along the way and interrupts his study to exclaim, 'How splendid this tree is!' 'How fair this field is!' Scripture considers it as if he has forfeited his soul. –Avot 3:9
Rav Kook explains this passage as follows: The error is not that someone interrupts Torah study to appreciate nature, rather it is in regarding this wonder as an interruption of Torah study. The real error is in compartmentalizes life, isolating his inward-directed spiritual life of prayer and Torah from the outside world's beauty and grandeur. By doing so, "he forfeits his soul" – he abandons his soul's sense of beauty and its harmony with the natural universe.
Reflections / Contemplation:
In what ways have I separated or compartmentalized my need for ‘wilderness’ time and my Jewish time?
How can I break down these divides?
How might removing these barriers affect my Jewish and ‘wilderness’ experiences?
A Commitment for Inner / Outer Action:
Today as I sit outside for 18 minutes I will study psalm 148. For a beautiful rendition of this psalm by two Israelis clickhere.