The Lei (plastic) flower garlands at our Hawaiian Shabbat made me think of necklaces in general, and wonder about a spiritual relevant life message, a Jewish insight we could come up with about necklaces? or necks? Once I started thinking about necks that made it easier, as it reminded me of a talk of the Rebbe (from Parshat Vayigash) about necks and the Beit HaMikdash (Temple) as well as the description in other Chabad texts about a certain Chassidic illness or malady.
First the Beit HaMikdash = Neck connection:
Here’s a little segment of a translation of the Rebbe’s talk on this from Chabad.org:
In the Torah, the neck is a common metaphor for the Holy Temple. “G‑d hovers about him all day, and dwells between his shoulders,” says Moses of Benjamin, referring to the Holy Temple in his province. And King Solomon in Song of Songs, singing the praises of the “maiden of Israel” and her relationship with the Almighty, proclaims: “Your neck is as the Tower of David.”
The Sanctuaries are links between heaven and earth, points of contact between the Creator and His creation… The Temple, then, is the “neck” of the world, the juncture that connects its body to its head… the Holy Temple is what connects the world to its supernal Vitalizer and source….
(read the full talk of the Rebbe here: http://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/3222/jewish/The-Neck.htm)
Hence the necklace:
Proverbs (1:9, 3:3) and Ezekiel (16:11) refer to Torah as a necklace. Here’s one way of seeing it: Neck-Lace. It frames and binds the neck together. Not a choker (pun-intended) but one that keeps the neck in focus, it frames and adorns this crucial connection and valuable transfer between head and body, of ideals to reality, of thoughts and action. This connection of mind and heart, head and body, is so wonderous, so beautiful, so important, that it deserves a necklace!
But wait, there could be a Bottle-Neck!
Chassidus speaks of a malady, a spiritual illness called “Meitzar HaGaron” or the narrow tightness of the neck. Sometimes people can experience a disconnect between their ideals and practices, between their vision and their realities, between the head and their body. This happens with car-traffic all the time in busy cities where there are too many cars trying to get through too few lanes – at the same time. In internet-speak you might call it a data bottleneck because there isn’t enough bandwidth, there’s too much data to get through but the transfer line (the neck) doesn’t have the capacity.
That’s where Great Neck and Little Neck come in:
This is no reflection on these two metro New York areas, only in regard to its name. Yes, we need some narrowing of the neck, because head and body just can’t flow one directly into the other. It needs the junction, the transfer zone, that allows one to translate into the other. And that’s actually how both Little Neck and Great Neck earned their name, as they both (in little and great measure respectively) jut out of the Long Island land mass into the Long Island Sound (the ocean between Long Island and Connecticut) narrowing that body of water in that area.
But while we need a neck between head and body (in a spiritual and figurative sense) we don’t want it to be too narrow. We need the flow to travel back and forth between head and body without constricting it too much. We don’t want bottleneck. In this sense, Great Neck is much better than Little Neck! Yes, we’re looking for a neck (some narrowing as head transfers to body) but we don’t want that neck too narrow and constricting for all the richness and depth we want to transfer…
Think: Do I experience this spiritual bottleneck? What can I do to go from Little Neck to Great Neck?
And we don’t mean the Long Island Expressway. Think of what can be done to expand connectiveness between our values and our behavior, our ideals and our practices, our thoughts and our feelings. What’s getting in the way, and how can we improve on this connectiveness?