By: Rabbi Mark Borovitz

Mindfulness is the buzzword today. It is used in Book titles,
seminars, etc. Most people associate mindfulness with Buddhism. I
would like to explain the origins of mindfulness in Judaism.

My definition of Mindfulness is: awareness of what is reality, being
present and awareness of consequences of what my current and next
actions will bring. In our tradition, we learn about being mindful in
the first chapter of Genesis. God tells us to take care of the earth,
having rule and dominion over all. In order to do this, we have to
know what each part of the earth needs to flourish. In the second
chapter of Genesis, we are told to take the seventh day, Shabbat, and
make it holy. We do this by not doing any creative work. How
interesting, we are commanded to take time to review what we have
created in the past week and appreciate it and appreciate and be
grateful for what God has created. To me, this is the height of

Adam then goes on and names all the animals. Here again, awareness of
what each creature is and naming them according to their own traits
takes being mindful. We are commanded to work the land and guard it.
In order to guard something, we have to be aware of what is going on
with it and around it. God is showing us mindfulness when God says
that it is not good for a human to be alone and that we need an Ezer
K’negdo, a helpmeet. This is someone who helps us do the next right
thing and pushes against us when we are doing the next wrong thing.
To know one from the other takes a great deal of awareness.

When man sees woman, face to face for the first time, he becomes
aware of his need to be connected. So, we learn in this second
chapter of Genesis to be aware of our need to love and be loved, to
be known by another person and to know another person. Finally in the
second chapter of Genesis, we are told to leave our parents home and
have Devekut, a complete union, with our soul mate. Devekut is the
same union that we seek with God. So, just as we have to be aware of
our need to be connected to God, we have to be aware of and cultivate
and grow our connection to our soul and to the soul of our mate.

Now, these are all positive examples of mindfulness. In Chapter three
of Genesis, we see what happens when we are not mindful. This is the
Garden of Eden story. When we don’t see what is and either talk
ourselves into a lie or allow ourselves to be led astray, we go into
hiding. Then, when found out, we blame another. This is the state of
most of our world today, non-mindfulness.

We see another example of this when Cain is told that “sin couches at
your door, it desires you much AND you can master it”. What does Cain
do with this warning and direction? He kills his brother Abel.

The only way to “master sin” is to be mindful of what is negative in
you and around you. Then, by knowing what the consequences of what
acting on this negativity will bring and making a conscious decision
to not give in to our negative impulses and, rather, transform the
energy to do good, we live a mindful life.

God Bless, Rabbi Mark

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