What’s Your Code?: TorahCycle Va’etchanan

va'etchananOf all the voices that try to tell you what to do–both inner and outer–which do you listen to? When push comes to shove, who gets the last and deciding vote about what you do with your time, your energy, your heart? Do your best acts of kindness or your least charming moments of petty pique happen randomly or by some plan? By your intention or by a seemingly unseen hand?

This week’s reading is a curious mix of a longing unsatisfied (Moses again implores and is denied entry into the Promised Land), and a prophetic warning that those who do enter, who get what they’ve been striving for, are going to blow it, be exiled, and suffer again before having another chance to do better.

All this and a reminder that we’ve been blessed with the joys and teachings of the direct encounter with the Divine at Sinai. Remember being so filled with the holy light that you drank it in with every sense? And having been given rules, the “ten instructions” as modernist Jews sometimes wryly call them.

A decade ago I appointed myself Your Jewish Fairy Godmother. As part of the process I wanted both a good chicken soup recipe and YourJFG’s ten commandments, meant as good guidelines for coping with day-to-day reality.

There I was, eyeball to eyeball with my values. Yikes! What were they?

Wrestling with that question was fun, challenging, and worth it. The answers have stood the test of time, and did a good job for preparing me  for this iteration of me, though my KabbalahGlass 10C are different, deeper, and still emerging.

Our core values are intrinsic. They’ve evolved with our history.

You’ve lived by yours for so long now that they’ve become part of your infrastructure. Like your skeleton: unseen, but critical to how you navigate the world. You enjoy the benefits of that complex geometry without being conscious of its detailed function.

Your values are like a spider’s web. With an amazing tensile strength that supports you, and also provides a net to hold you, no matter how hard the winds of life’s vicissitudes blow at you. A slender thread to the eye, but a powerful anchor for your soul.

Note: values are different than goals. They’re not about what you want to accomplish. They’re about how you act on the road to getting there.

Your code of values is worth identifying and thinking about. Teasing them out and trying them on, seeing how they work together and suit you. It’s like finding just the right pear of jeans. Seeing how they fit and feel, naming the code that shapes and frames you.

These inner commandments are allies that’ve been helping you all along. Give them names and voice.

How do you find them? Start by asking yourself what you think they are. Then listen and take good notes.

Your answers will come in clusters of insight alternating with vaguer impressions. Your values’ nouns and verbs may sometimes seem commanding and other times elusive. But once you get them right you’ll know. You’ll feel a tingling resonance when insights are brighter and clearer. They’ll help illuminate your journey.