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.
Jewish Spirituality - Volume 7
One with Gd
By: Alan Krinsky
> As an aside, I would say that I am most worried when I
>hear recent baalei teshuvot (those who have returned
>to a Torah way of life) tell me that they either have
>turned or will turn their entire lives over to G-d in
>one fell swoop. Sudden, large-scale and dramatic
>change is one of the most proven ways to ultimate
>failure that I know.
I welcomed the comments from this response to my earlier posting. I just
wanted to add in regard to the excerpt above that I agree with this too.
Perhaps I got a bit carried away with my language, but I suppose part of
what appeals to me about Leibowitz is the forcefulness of his language.
His submission, however, (and I think he prefers the term commitment or
decision) is Kantian in style; it was a decision he made freely and lives
by. It is not at all sentimental or caught up in the dangers one no doubt
rightly associates with turning one's life over to G-d. I want to make
clear that I find all of this a struggle, that I have not fully turned my
life over to G-d in the sense I may have incorrectly suggested. Indeed, I
agree with the above writer (where she or he writes elsewhere in the
response) that spiritual growth is fundamentally about making one's life
less ME-centered and more G-d-centered. Perhaps this was a much better way
of phrasing the point I had intended to make from the outset. Perhaps this
is what I really meant to say, that by turning one's life over to G-d we
should be making our lives more G-d-centered. My point is that even
intellectually, rather than emotionally, this orientation seems of crucial
importance in our religious and spiritual lives.
Subject: Re: Davening
By: Caren Torczyner
I have found that one of the most effective ways to make davening more meaningful is to study both the words of the prayers themselves and the historical sources behind their development. The daily prayers have an underlying coherent structure that is built around certain individual and national foci, and taking this apart gives me a much clearer picture of act of praying and the feelings that go along with it.
One source that I have used is a two volume Hebrew set called Yesodot HaTfillah (Foundations of prayer). Another good source is a two volume set by Rabbi Steinzaltz on the structure of the siddur. Two English books on the words of the prayers themselves are World of Prayer by Rabbi Munk and My Prayer. These last two did not really help me, but a lot of people like them. To locate some of the Talmudic sources for much of our prayer structure and many of the prayers themselves, see .
Subject: One with Gd
By: Scott Spiegler
[I am re-posting this from last week, because I accidentally omitted the last paragraph of Scott's e-mail.]
> Spirituality is an emotion a feeling. The doing and
> thinking of commandments produces spirituality.
> Doing impacts on feelings to a much greater extent
> than thinking and the both together have the greatest
I wanted to comment on the statement that spirituality
is a feeling. I would respectfully disagree on this
point. I think spirituality is a state of being. I
would liken it more to how close or how far away one
is from G-d.
If one were to view spirituality along a continuum, as
one reader suggested in last week's edition, I would
say that each one of us could describe their spiritual
development as lying figuratively at some point along
that continuum. The more elevated one's spiritual
development is- the closer to the end at which G-d
'sits' would you be. The lower the level, the further
away. That is how I would describe the spirituality of
I'm not sure if this is what Rafi was getting at, but
I do think that there is a deepening sense of
well-being, satisfaction and inner joy that we
experience, as our spirituality grows and we move
closer to G-d. But, I do not think that spirituality
itself is an emotion or a feeling.
I do, however, think he is correct in saying, "Doing
impacts on feelings to a much greater extent than
thinking". I can relate this to the words I quoted
from R' Kirzner ZT"L, which roughly paraphrased are-
we come to have attachments to the one (read One) to
whom we give. That is, the more I *do* G-dly avodah-
the more I feel the attachment. And, inversely, the
less I do, the less attached I feel. I really think
this is so true, and I thank him for reminding me of
that in his post.
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