Any road followed precisely to its end leads precisely nowhere.
– Frank Herbert
He does everything he is supposed to do. He follows the letter of the law. He prays every word when it is the proper time. He measures the water he uses to wash his hands in the morning and before he eats. He is careful with his speech. He guards each moment of his Shabbat. He is precise in all he does. He has no joy in his observance, but he is not unhappy. He does not feel that he is advancing, but he is not frustrated. Each Yom Kippur he feels as if he stands exactly in the place he stood the previous year, and is OK with the familiar. We may be tempted to say that He is headed, “Ayin,” nowhere.
Yet, this ability to head “Ayin,” is considered a gift: “The pre-eminence of man over beast is “Ayin,” non-existent.’ (From the Yom Kippur Vidui) The person who is able to keep on walking on “Ayin,” or air, because he knows that there is no precise end – the road is Infinite – earns the ability to soar, precisely because he moves forward despite his sense of Ayin.
Ayin is a challenge in one form and a gift in another, a gift reserved for those who meet the Ayin Challenge: Will you keep on moving forward even when you feel that you are headed “Ayin,” or, nowhere? When you meet this challenge you will be granted the gift of Ayin, walking on air, the ability to soar with a sense of the Infinite, a place with no end, only beginnings.
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