Take two identical pieces of fruit, such as orange slices or grapes. Eat the first piece of fruit as you normally would.
Before eating the second piece, take a few minutes to examine it closely. Notice its smell, colorations, texture, weight. Think about all the people involved in bringing the fruit into your home: the farmer, the picker, the packager, those who designed and built the truck that hauled the fruit to your local supermarket. Next, contemplate the sunshine that enabled the fruit to grow on its tree or vine in the first place. Think about the sun, how it has been radiating energy for billions of years, how it formed after the Big Bang, and the unfathomable nature of time.
Now bite into your second piece of fruit. Chew it slowly, appreciating its sweetness, juiciness, the way it feels in your mouth. Consider the fact that something that grows out of the ground is nourishing your body and helping to keep it attached to your soul.
If you did the exercise correctly, you’ve transformed a potentially mundane experience into a transcendent one that fills you with awe. Infusing this “wow” factor into everything thing you see and do is the gift Rabbi Alexander Seinfeld seeks to impart through this fascinating and highly instructive book.
In addition to the fruit contemplation and other exercises, the author explains how various Jewish meditation practices and prayers enable us to derive joy and pleasure in even the smallest of everyday occurrences. Peppered with graphic illustrations, Hebrew translations and transliterations of prayers and psalms, lengthy footnotes, and six appendices, The Art of Amazement is an amazing book — an unusually potent resource that can enliven your spiritual journey.
Robin K. Levinson is an award-winning journalist and author of a dozen books, including the Gali Girls series of Jewish historical fiction for children. She currently works as an assessment specialist for a global educational testing organization. She lives in Hamilton, NJ.