The Jewish Vision Quest

When life feels like an uphill climb,
accept it and head right to the Top;

There, enter into conversation,
with the One you belong to.

Again and again the primary metaphor of Moses’ adult life is that of climbing a mountain in order to speak his heart and receive the insight and guidance he needed to sustain a meaningful life for the people in his charge. The importance of being able to reach out beyond yourself in this way, to pour out your soul and be able to listen for guidance is something  youth deserve to experience and know how to do.

What Moses did, hitbodedut - hitbodedus, "making oneself alone" with G*d, is an important practice. Ideally experienced out in nature, Hassidic lore records teachings of how hitbodedut can be done inwardly, even on a crowded subway car.

I recommend beginning in a nice private spot in nature where a person need not be at all self conscious. For a B-mitzvah student, a camping trip with family or peers and teachers is a good launching ground. It is possible to get lost out there, so be sure to read up on safety considerations, the web site has good guidance.

Hitbodedut, is simple to do. Begin to speak out loud as though heard. Let the words pour out, any content is acceptable, no holds barred. You can inveigh, praise, plead, and muse. The major thing is not to stop at all.

If a dry spell comes, not words seem to be available, just make sounds until the next thing that needs to be said arrives. And when nothing more can possibly come, and yet does, keep going, until it is all out there, spoken.

Now simply, wait, walk if you like, and listen, look, and notice the hint, clarification or full-blown knowing that tends to come.

For some, what is said and heard will feel too private to share. For others, debriefing within a group or with a mentor will be very helpful. Celebrate the return of the youth from their hitbodedus with a blessing for their courage and connection to the ways of our "tribe."