A Meditation on the Power of Words

We learn in our tradition that the Creator first wrote the Torah, and then looked into what he had written to create His world. The Aramaic expression for this, which has made its way into the English lexicon, is abra-cadabra, which literally translates as “I shall create according to how I shall speak.” This is a concept that is dear to all of us as members of the Jewish Meditation Group because our humble beginnings are a pristine expression of this notion…

You see, it turns out that about 10 years ago our lovely neighborhood in Seward Park was experiencing a wave of afternoon break-ins. The owner of the house where our group now meets met with the police and a neighborhood watch group to understand how best to deter these crimes of opportunity. What was learned is that the perpetrators typically knock on the front door to see if anyone is home, and then if there’s no answer, go around to the back door to pursue their mischief. And so it became clear that the best way to prevent such problems was to deter anyone from ever knocking on the front door in the first place. After considering many ways to achieve this objective, a professional signboard was purchased for this purpose and for several weeks thereafter our homeowner and his family tried out different combinations of letters on this board, seeking to find just the right message that would cause a would-be bad guy to turn around and go back to where he came. Some options that were tried out included… “Please don’t knock – Canine obedience class now in session”  or “Please don’t knock – Preschool class nap time.” But in the end, the magic words that surfaced on this signboard were “Please do not disturb – Meditation Class now in Session.” The sign, perched professionally atop its 4’ theater stand, was placed directly in front of the front door of our Holly Street house, and in the following months became an object of curiosity from friends and neighbors alike, including Rabbi Shmuel Brody. The homeowner did not want to betray the nature of his ruse and so insisted that it was a work in process.

Fast forward 7 years and a synagogue took root in the basement of this house. And from this synagogue came forward the idea of creating a meditation class, which met for its first few sessions and then eventually settled right there into the basement of the house that carried the prophetic signboard. Now graying and having shed a few letters, the sign is somehow now more alive than ever, having realized its true potential in this world for transforming words into reality.

And so we dedicate our Jewish Meditation Group to the spirit of Abra-Cadabra – of learning to create the quiet space inside ourselves for our words to be transformed into meaningful actions.