By way of preface:
The "Jewish Spirituality" mailing list is an outgrowth of several conversations in which people told me that they felt "alone" in their quest to develop their relationship with Gd. I knew they weren't alone, just from my own interactions with other people, and so I extended an invitation to the Jewish community of Rhode Island to join in a weekly mailing list exploring issues within their relationship with HaShem.
Many of the messages posted on the list reflect people's personal struggles and sensitivities. As a result, some of the people who post remarks on this list opt to do so anonymously; they send me the e-mail, and I drop their names. The list is "blind cc'd," as well, so that no one knows who else is on the list. Our goal is that the members of this list should draw strength and inspiration from the words of their peers, and thereby continue to develop as Jews.
If you would like to join the list, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jewish Spirituality - Volume 27
Putting Spirituality to Work
Judging for the Good
Subject: We're Back?
By: Mordechai Torczyner
This list has just endured a dormant 6 weeks, but I have received posts which I hope will serve to revive it. Judaism demands introspection, and introspection can sometimes benefit from outside contributions - that's why we're here, to contribute and to be contributed to.
Welcome back, then, and let's see what happens!
Have a good Shabbos,
Subject: An Appeal
By: Scott Spiegler
I miss this list. I've noticed its disappearance in the past month or so and have felt sorry that folks weren't making the time to post to it.
I am making an appeal here to revive it, as I really do believe that it is an invaluable resource that deserves our time and interest.
By not posting to the list and letting it die, we are saying that reflecting on our spiritual growth is not important enough to make the time for in our lives. Even if a person were to think about it themselves and not write to this list, it is a withholding of vital information and experience from which you can learn and to which you can contribute. Sharing ways in which you have been successful in spiritual growth is another variant of Ahavas Yisrael. It is giving something of value to another Jew who can benefit from your/our collective experience.
I know we are all busy. I know that we have many obligations in this life. I ask you to dig deep and not let this list disappear for good. I know I felt frustrated personally in posting to this list and not
getting responses to my messages. It needs to be a shared responsibility for this list to survive. We need to say what is in our hearts and minds vis-a-vis, G-d and the Jewish community.
We have to fight the impulse to say, "I'd love to post, but I don't have the time". We need to make the time. We will never find it. We have to fight the impulse to say, "I'd love to post, but I don't have anything useful to say". You do have something useful to say. You are a Jew struggling with many of the same issues that others are. Please tell us about your experiences, your frustrations and your victories in whatever words feel right. You needn't share specifics. Talk about your
experience in the abstract, but talk about it. I need your help. Others need your help. We all need eachother. Please be there in whatever way you can for everyone else interested in their spiritual growth. I ask this of you from the bottom of my heart, from one Yid to another. I am here to contribute, but I cannot do this alone. Please send in a post for next week. I look forward to hearing from you...
Good Shabbos with great love, Scott
Subject: Putting spirituality to work
By: Anne Schwartz
Here are a few ways I put Jewish spirituality to work:
1. My greatest inspiration for writing meaningful poetry is derived
from the Sedur, and the Torah. The Psalms of Praise to Ha-Shem
provide us with hope in a hopeless world, motivation to go on living,
striving when the world around us is hostile and accusatory.
2. When I arrive home after work, I actually speak aloud to Ha-Shem,
first thanking Him for taking care of my home and blessing it with safety.
3. Thanking Him for helping me through each day even though beset by
chronic pain; thanking him for Israel's existence and praying for true peace.
4. Performing mitzvot in the workplace and thereafter, however burdensome,
knowing that Ha-Shem will give me the strength to overcome obstacles.
5. Praying and praising Ha-Shem for my children's lives and all Israel.
6. I walk to my garden every evening and praise Ha-Shem for providing
its floral beauty a result of His strength within me.
7. I kiss the Mezuzah, cross the threshhold then gaze upon
the indoor leaves and flowers; this helps me restore my faith in a cruel world.
To offer a portion of a certain poem:
Just one more day to view the sky
Its clouds animated from my inner eye
Just one more day to smell the flowers
Their brief beauty to while away the hours
Just one more day to listen to the problems of man
Their politicians' promises, a myriad clan...
L'Shana Tovah for all Israel
Subject: Judging for the Good
By: Scott Spiegler
Here is something I have been thinking about a great deal regarding dan
l'chaf zechus (judging others for the good).
I was in a Jewish bookstore some weeks ago, looking for some seforim.
And, I saw many people there whom I assumed by their outward appearance
and behavior had a connection to Judaism that is very different than
what the Torah directs us towards.
And, I felt upset and a little depressed seeing all this. I know I felt
some anger at these people for straying so far from the fold and, at the
same time, I also know that it is not right to be so judgemental. It
hurts me to see Jews treat Jewish articles (like a shofar or a tallis)
more like souvenirs rather than vessels of Holiness. And, I felt
conflicted in my sadness, my anger and my judgement.
I still don't know how to process that experience in a positive way, and
I wondered what others have done when they've found themselves in
similar circumstances? Do you get angry? What do you do with those angry
feelings? How else can you view such a situation? Do others feel upset
when you imagine this scenario or do you react differently?
I would like to hear different ways of reacting to this situation.
Good Shabbos, Scott
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