Here and Now: Judaism

We looked at living here and now in the Old Testament, but that does not exhaust what Judaism teaches about it.  We gain additional insights from the word ‘aschav.’

Aschav is not in the Bible.  The earliest find of the word is in the Dead Sea Scrolls (4Q225). It is the word that Judaism uses most often to describe present-moment living.  A common rendering of the word is “right now.”  It is not only a word about immediacy, but also used to describe presence.  Living ” right here”… “right now.”

The means for this is meditation.  It is a practice, but it is more.  Meditation is the belief that the present moment contains all that we need.  When we meditate, we ruminate (like a cow chewing its cud) on a particular aspect of current reality. From this concentration, the nutrients of the moment feed us. Often it is a passage in Scripture.  But it can also be a focused attentiveness to another text, a work of art, a scene in nature, music, etc.  

Aschav means being nourished “right now.” Along with the other religions we have reviewed, here-and-now living happens as we breathe, walk, sit, eat, etc.  We likely do it best in solitude, but living “right now” can (and should) also happen when we are with others in community and conversation.  Aschav is being totally present in the moment, and in being so we are fully alive.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 31 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church
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