Yamim HaNora’im: What’s So Important About Awe?

What does the word “awe” mean? Why are we supposed to be in awe during the first ten days (Yamim Nora’im) of the New Year? What about them is so special? How do we remain in awe after Yom Kippur and continue examining ourselves over the course of the year? How do we open our own “Temple gates” to everyone, and everything else, the same way the actual gates would have been opened every Yom Kippur to the people (Am Yisra’el VeGoyyim BaYisra’el) in Temple times? Are our eyes the gates to our mind? Is it our mouths to our stomachs? To my observation, the nose is the first gate, the gate of everyone, the mouth is the second gate, the gate of mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters, which we accept nutrients from–the nose is where HaShem breathed life into humans, according to Bereishit, and all mammals, which is why it sustains us first. The mother and matriarchs are the nurturers of the family and community, which means, without them, humanity itself would not survive, and no one could be brought into this world. The third gate, the gate of Nahor, are our ears, because they sense what the eyes cannot see, and prior to discovering the planet and universe, you must be able to hear, as many proclaim it in Sh’ma; the passageways in your inner ear also contain the fluid which biologically maintains balance in your mind, which is ultimately serviced by the eyes. The eyes are the gate of the Cohen because only cohanim are allowed to conduct services in the Temple; also, your eyes connect to your pineal gland.

The pineal gland has always been linked to spirituality and psychology over the course of history. One of the earliest concepts was that it is the third, or inner, eye of all humans, an idea that is still prevalent to this day. However, scientists have discovered that other vertebrates use their pineal gland as their own inner eye with close to the same functions: The pineal gland aids with sleep, and with it, our emotions, as sleep potentially balances our emotions and subconscious self.

It seems the body-mind duo related to our own individual Temple requires a balance of corporeal and incorporeal needs, giving justice to the phrase, “Healthy body, healthy mind.” It means we must not ignore the ways our bodies function and how they feel, personally and inter-personally. It means it is possible to have a form of awe toward our own bodies, and caring about ourselves as well as others, because we were given these bodies to care for them and do whatever in our power not to desecrate them.

If your body compares to a Temple, then your mind must compare to a divine presence, being universal or spiritual; as far as science is concerned, our minds are extraordinary because of our conscience, which, as far as we know, is a trait very few animals share with us. This, in a way, really does separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom, which would give us an even more special connection to the universal Mother (Ein Sof Or).

This being noted, it means awe inspires both a physical connection with ourselves and any connections we may have with our spirit and presence. We must never feel an absent sense of purpose, as awe is defined by purpose, and if there is no purpose, then why were we created? Is Jewish, or even modern Israel’s, history and heritage not inspired by awe? If we have a covenant, Brit, to continue, awe can impact the faith in ourselves, our people, as well as our ancestral land, and reverence gives us endurance to continue the mission our ancestors, Avoteinu, accepted. You do not have to believe in a god to be reverent, because you always have several ways to revere our existence, being that HaShem has always seemed to be a personification of it. I am neither stating there is or isn’t a god, what my intention is is to focus on the affects reverence and faith have in inspiring awe.

I view awe in the physical and the spiritual to connect ourselves with our environment and existence in general, which will enable corporeal, bodily, and incorporeal, mental, needs to be granted. This is why I related the passages in our head to the gates in the Temple. This compares our senses to the sacred presence, Shechinah, felt in the Temple while revering our Creator. The awe of a Creator relates to the commitment granted to us to care for ourselves, thus submitting to what is.

When awe is involved, one must consider the importance of how dedicated one is to the awe-inspiring. Do you have the commitment to care about your dedication to, and faith in, whatsoever is being revered, along with the devotion towards the existence or purpose? For me, awe involves all of those questions, especially within the contexts of morality and my life. But, these questions and words are not intended for me, but for you to consider.

About the Author
PA Mendel Kus Borowicz is a writer by day and a researcher by night. Among his interests are history, politics, world faiths, science, and investing. He is a pluralist and globalist who feels everyone is a force in Tikkun Olam, which is why he does not have any specific affiliations. He is also a practical Zionist. He lives in northern New Jersey and is an avid Mets fan.