I was told recently the story of a beloved rebbetzin who in her 90s began to lose her faculties. She could no longer recognize close family and caregivers. She could no longer remember simple events. In short, one could say her mind began to fail.
A longtime nurse began to feed the elderly woman and asked, “Do you remember my name?”
The rebbetzin paused and thought for a moment.
“No,” she said, “I don’t. But,” she added as she took the woman’s hand and looked into her eyes, “I know that you are very deep in my heart.”
To me, this is a deep affirmation of our access to understanding that goes beyond our ability to analyze. Experiencing love and awareness of connection to another comes from a place of deep knowing – a knowing heart.
Rabbi Avigdor Miller says that the appropriate translation of the word “lev” – “heart” in modern Hebrew – is “mind.” The reason that’s so, he says, is because in Judaism the most valuable knowledge affects us on a feeling level; it’s knowledge that comes from beyond us and elevates our character.
It’s often tempting to rely heavily on the rational faculty of our mind.
“How’s this going to work out?”
“If I do this, what’s her response going to be?”
“How am I ever going to cover my bases?”
We try to map out our world in a way that fits our personal analysis of what is pleasing and right. In truth, we are not in control. Reality often seems to violate our analysis of what’s good.
Fortunately, we have an additional faculty for understanding. Sensing the limitations of personal thinking and becoming interested in our access to Divine understanding will bring us closer to the gift of a knowing heart.