2014 – Giving thanks for my two hands

After reading a number of well intended wishes for wealth, prosperity and dreams coming true for the year 2014, I began to feel a certain discomfort.

It is not that I do not wish all of the above for myself and for my loved ones. My discomfort stems more from being cognizant of the immense suffering and poverty around the globe today.

Knowing that so many people do not even have the means to access any material wealth, I begin to question a life which focuses on the pursuit of affluence. I try putting myself in the shoes of one of the thousands of African refugees currently residing in Israel, having fled the woes of Sudan, Eretria or similar impoverished, war torn African State.

What would I choose to do if like them, I was offered $3000 to return to my bleak, hopeless country?

Would I stay or would I go?

And then I recall that exactly one year ago, on December 31, 2012, I resigned from my job. I held a decent position as an educator at the training center of a thriving international company.

I wanted a change in my life. I was not satisfied with my lot. I felt that I was not realizing my dream or my potential. My plight felt serious at the time. And I again reflected on the lot of that South Sudanese refugee. I wondered what his or her New Year’s wish for 2014 could be.

I heard myself say twenty fourteen. Something about those two numbers next to one another struck a chord.

And then it came to me. I recalled that my Hebrew name David, has the Gematria (Kabbala numerology) value of 14. I began to tap into something I wrote in my previous blog article titled “These are the names.”

“According to the Jewish tradition, the name we are given by our parents is chosen by G-d. The name we receive embodies our essence, our life purpose.”

According to Kabbala, the Gematria value of each Hebrew word, as well as that of our own personal Hebrew name tells a story, providing insights to aspects of ourselves. One way to unravel the story, its meaning, is to identify corresponding words with the same number value. The word kabbala itself is rooted in the Hebrew word “makbil”, meaning corresponding.

Having been interested in this number for a while, I immediately made the association with another Hebrew word “yad” (meaning hand), which too holds the value 14. Excited by this personal connection, I contemplated the wonderful collection of Hebrew words related to the “yad” and how this could further inspire me as I look ahead towards the new year of 2014.

The Hebrew word “hodaya” meaning to give thanks after receiving a hand, is derived from “yada” – to thrust one’s hand. Both of these are derivatives of “yad”.

The Hebrew word “ידיד” (yadid) meaning close friend is written with two”yads” next to each other. This symbolizes true friendship with two hands shaking or holding each other.

I started to enjoy the message for 2014 which began to emerge. Be thankful!

And then as if somebody wanted to confirm this message, the number 20 alongside the 14, jumped out at me. Twenty is the value of the Hebrew letter “kaf”.

“Kaf” is also a Hebrew word, meaning the palm of our hand. The letter “kaf” in Kabbala therefore symbolizes the manifestation of actualizing our potential. Because the word “kaf” has numerous meanings, all of which are related, we say “kaf yad” to refer specifically to the palm of our hand.
And now after much contemplation, and not “off the cuff”, I appreciate how wonderfully the year twenty- fourteen manifests as “the year of the palm of the hand.”

According to our sages, Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, has almost unparalleled spiritual significance. Nonetheless together with the rest of the world, including the Jewish community at large, I cannot ignore the defining moment and opportunity for self-introspection that a New Year in the Gregorian calendar presents.

The days of the month in the Hebrew calendar are represented by letters, as opposed to the Gregorian calendar where they are represented numerically. Hebrew Letters are consequently not merely symbols we use for reading and writing. The depth of their significance is underscored by the double meaning of the Hebrew word for letter “ot’, which also means a “sign”.

I ask myself what meaning I attach to this kabbalistic adventure into the numbering of 2014? What significance do I attribute to it? The beauty of Kabbala, is that as its very name implies, there are many corresponding meanings to these signs which we receive. We each search for our own truth amongst all these variations.

So what do I personally conclude? What works for me? What does the palm of the hand symbolize for me? What is my truth?

Shall I consult a palmist to tell me my 2014 fortune? Do I conclude that it is a year in which I need to connect to a certain handicraft? Do I need to give more? Maybe I need to take more?

I imagine that this will be a work in progress. Right now for me the year 2014 represents an opportunity to thrust my hand out to help those in need, including myself.

It reminds me to be thankful of the miracle of having two hands with which I can create, give, receive and strive to manifest my potential. As with each year and every day of our lives, it is an opportunity to create something new.

I recognize that there are millions of people in this world who do not have the full use of their hands, for whatever reasons. And so it is a reminder that I have been blessed with two hands.

I am reminded that there are many millions who will continue to live in poverty, in hardship, in their “Egypt”, currently with no outstretched hand in sight.

May G-d’s hand bless us and be merciful to all mankind in 2014.

About the Author
David Skolni is a South African immigrant. He came to live in Israel in 1982. He is a special needs teacher and a practitioner in the Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education. His current interest is in the connections between body, movement and Judaism.