Over Shabbos, I Penetrated The Mystery Of Love

Today I read Rabbi Dr. Marc Gafni‘s 2003 book "The Mystery of Love."

I was surprised to find it such an erotically charged book. I thought it would be boring.

From page 68: "The model for eros is virtually always the sexual. Mystical sources about with the ritualized eroticism in the Synagogue service. The Torah scroll is taken out of the ark for public reading and study. She is undressed. Her lavish coverings are removed, revealing a scroll of bare animal skin. She is then laid on the altarlike reading table and rolled open. The readers places a phalliclike pointer on the spread parchment between the two scrolled sides and begins to chant the text aloud."

Wow. I’d never thought of that.

On page 107, Marc Gafni writes: Many years ago, when I was nineteen, I broke up a relationship with a woman whom I loved with all of my heart. Though not yet a rabbi, nor even a teacher, I felt powerfully called to the spirit. I believed, as I had been taught, that only a full curbing of sexuality would allow me to be sufficiently pure to answer my spiritual calling. My teachers at the seminary reinforced my desire for piety and "purity" and lauded my decision. I broke off the relationship abruptly — honestly citing my need for purity as my primary motive.

Although I was completely unaware of it then, it was — in retrospect — probably the greatest sin of my life. Paradoxically it was the fear of what I thought to be sin that brought about the greatest sin — the inability to see one I loved and who loved me. About six months after we broke up I received a letter from her that had apparently been written six months earlier and gotten lost in the mail. It was a beautiful note. I cried for about two hours when I read it. I did not cry again for twelve years, when I was thirty-one.

At that time I was married and needed to make a decision about getting divorced. I went to the person who had been my primary teacher for many years. The first words out of his mouth, before he really had a chance to think, were, "But you will ruin your career." It was the first in a series of moments of clarity that set me off in search of a deeper truth. I decided to reject the counsel of my teacher and follow my heart into the unknown.

I understood then that a teacher who is not a lover, who cannot see their students but only the students "careers" is not a teacher. I knew that I needed to leave such teachers behind.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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