Ask The Rabbi

For the week ending 16 February 2013 / 5 Adar I 5773

The Call of Nature

by Rabbi Yirmiyahu Ullman -
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From: Isaiah

Dear Rabbi,

I have found recently that I have been craving for a walk in nature and have found an overwhelming sense of inner peace when I meditate on a place from memory. My question is why do I always find a connection to G-d through nature?

Dear Isaiah,

In our age of high-tech and synthetic surroundings, it should not be surprising that a person feel a need to get back to basics from time to time and to connect to G-d through the natural world.

The world of nature is a wonderful setting in which to celebrate Creation. Breathing pure, clean air, smelling the scent of the trees, fields and flowers, hearing the chiming of birds, falling leaves and rushing streams, seeing the beautiful scenery and feeling the texture of the world all around us tantalizes the senses, sending a palpable surge of life through our being.

Connecting in this way to Creation naturally facilitates a connection to the Creator Himself. Recognizing that it is G-d behind all this beauty and splendor rejuvenates one's appreciation for the wonder and wisdom of the Creator and the soul is thereby stirred to commune with G-d in this setting more than in our artificial, climate-controlled environments.

Interestingly, the Hebrew word for nature (הטבע) has the same numerical value as the name for G-d (אלהים). It is in Nature, therefore, that we find G-d. The man-made settings that distance us from Nature actually insulate us from feeling G-d. Conversely, getting back to Nature can help us get back to G-d.

Kabbalistic and Chasidic teachings note that as Nature teems with life, each species resonates its own song of praise to G-d. In fact, Perek Shira, (literally "Chapter of Song" and often translated as "Song of Creation") which is attributed to King David, is an ancient collection of the praises recited by various parts of Creation. These songs are harmonized into what's described as a subliminal symphony of praise to G-d.

When a person merges his meditations, prayers, supplications and praises to G-d within this symphony of Nature, they are elevated tremendously while he is greatly inspired and G-d derives from them great delight. What's more, if this symphony is comprised of different sections - inanimate, vegetative and animate - he contributes the missing human element. In fact, he becomes the actual conductor of this grand symphonic orchestra of praise to G-d.

Given all the subliminal sub-currents resonating in Nature, it should now be clear why you find such a connection to G-d through Nature.

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