Heaven and Earth
Judaism is deeply concerned with the healing of mind, body and spirit through all of its aspects we know so well. Take a good look, once more, at the Jewish six pointed star, the Star of David, the Magen David and note how it's comprised of two interlocking triangles: one pointing upwards to heaven and one looking downward towards earth, both coupled or healed into a single unity. Judaism makes an important distinction between Heaven and Earth from the very beginning when G-d created the heaven and the earth and throughout all of Torah literature.
Earth is the world with which we're all familiar, it's the world of what we can perceive through the five senses. Heaven, however, is something quite different; it's the exact opposite or mirror image of the other. So for example, here on Earth we find such qualities as knowledge, fear, change, curing of illness; the Heavenly counterpart would be wisdom, love permanence and healing. Heaven is the spiritual world, the invisible world that exists even though we may not be aware of it.
The religious aspect is connected to the Earth plane in the sense that everything we do-the rituals, the mitzvot, the prayers-operates as a result of conscious choices we make utilizing our five senses (I include touch as one of the five). To connect to spirit that emanates from the heavenly plane, one has to make a concerted effort to tap into that potential; it doesn't simply come from the religious tradition. It takes some effort; mostly the practice of awareness of all aspects of life-the physical, the emotional, and the mental together with the attribute that we call in Hebrew, kavannah. It takes the kind of personality like those who are disenchanted with the status quo or those who seek greater fulfillment in life. Out of the connection with soul comes healing and the spiritual life.
Some of us who feel the need for a spiritual connection and are frustrated with synagogue life, may either find a Jewish renewal community somewhere, may find another religion or may simply drop out of the religious scene altogether. The positive side of this is that with the right focus and attitude we can enhance our spiritual connection with nothing more than a shift in awareness: how we direct our kavannah, our attention. Our affiliation with a synagogue provides us with a sense of community whose joint energy is vital to the task of healing. Participating in Shabbat and holidays helps to bring us together as a unified whole. Prayer is undoubtedly the most valuable component to Jewish healing, however we need to participate in the service, to join in, to joyfully sing praises to G-d and express our gratitude for all we have received. There's really no need to devise new rituals or new music, as some communities do, when what we know is so beautifully inspiring for us all to experience soulfulness.
A short editorial appeared recently in the Providence Journal with the following subheading, "a Duke University study shows that people over 65 who attend services once a week have a lower level of a substance (which shows up in certain diseases) the body produces under stress". This is one of several studies, some of which were under the direction of Dr. Larry Dossey, a Houston based physician who has found valuable correlations between healing and prayer. This all points to the efficacy of prayer and involvement in a religious community to affect healing.
There are any number of functions
that Mitzvot perform, but the area that deserves attention here is that
a Mitzvah is to be performed with great attention, with your whole being
focused on the singular act. This consistent practice teaches us how to
focus our attention on our everyday activities which is the key to the
spiritual life and also which transforms the energy that caused the illness
in the first place . It's important to remember that just about everything
we do in the Jewish arena has a healing effect.