Jewish Spirituality
Volume 2

By way of preface:

Volume 2


I am happy to report that I received three responses to our first "catalyst" e-mail. As a matter of fact, I don't see us needing a new "catalyst" post; these messages should be catalytic, themselves.

If you have a thought on one of these messages, please send it to me, and I will post it in next week's e-mail. Please indicate, in your Subject line or in the e-mail, whether your e-mail is a general thought, or a comment on a specific post in this e-mail.

On a separate note, we have added three readers to our list this week. If you know someone who may be interested in this list, please have them e-mail me; it is no trouble for me to add them to the mailing list.


Subject: Being one with G-d
By: Anonymous

Wow! I think Rav Weinberger is really onto something. Just last night I was thinking about the fact that everything came from the same SOURCE, and we call that source "G-d". Thereby anything that comes from the source, is the source; it is an extention of the source. Just as we are an extention of the Earth, we came from the Earth, as it says,"And G-d formed man from the dust of the earth..." Genesis2:7

Anyway, the point is that we all know, in our minds, that everything is Hashem, that we are ALL just this ONE "Being" that is G-d, BUT we don't REALIZE it. We don't realize this ONE-ness that we are, we don't FEEL it, and that is the problem! Without feeling it and bringing it into our physical reality it's not real, it's just a concept , an idea, a thought.

So, we see that we must bring G-d into our physical bodies in order to feel the ONE-ness that connects us all; for this body is what we are in, it is the body that does all the actions in this physical world. Our bodies are gifts from G-d, they are what seperates us from angels, therefor we must cherish them, work with them, transform them, and connect them with the ONE-ness of the ever-pervadeing essence of G-d.

But why us? The Jews play a special role in the un-concealement or the revealment of G-d's presence and imminence. We have been "chosen" or have chosen ourseleves to take on the responsability of connecting with the ONE-ness of existence, filling ourselves with it , and then SPREADING it to everyone else. But you must FEEL the ONE-ness in order to spread it. And that is what we must work on, FEELING, and thereby REALIZING, the ONE-ness of G-d's pressence and cultivating the JOY, LOVE, HAPPINESS, and AMAZEMENT OF LIFE, that comes out from that "REALization of ONE".

May we all come to be that shining light of G-d unto ourselves, eachother and unto all the other nations.


Subject: Thoughts on Spirituality
By: Rafi Minkin

Hashem wants us to succeed and therefore we merit according to our effort. Our relationship to Hashem is unique and individual. The effort is the positive direction that results from the tension
1) in our physical or animalistic needs,
2) in our soul or spiritual needs, and
3) between the two.
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 impact. The highest level of spirituality is with the greatest tension in the (doing and thinking) of commandments.


Subject: Maintaining Spirituality
By: Elaine Saklad

I recognize this problem in my own life - empty prayers, performing the details of the mitzvos, without necessarily feeling much. I can go along like this for a while, and then I get a vague emptiness, a feeling that there's something missing. When this feeling hits, I try to learn something that will "touch my soul" - most often, it's something by Rav Soloveitchik - either a book or tape. The other thing I do is to listen to music or sing - usually something from the siddur, something meaningful. It gets me feeling more connected. Once I get going, it's a little easier to keep the connectedness going. For a while, anyway.

I particularly have difficulty on Shabbos and yomtov (not every Shabbos and yomtov, thank G-d!) I've attributed the feeling of "something missing" to being responsible for a family - shopping, cooking, food preparation, etc. The details keep me very busy and I don't get to go to shul or be as involved in spiritual pursuits as much as I'd like. Some people can feel spiritual by preparing meals and taking care of a family - I find that I need to build up my spirituality first, so that I can perform these tasks in a happy "Shabbos-dik" (or "Yomtov-dik") way. When I think about these needs in advance, I try to learn, doven, etc. beforehand, so that I'll be ready. It's difficult to do this, on top of the other things that need doing...

I'm looking forward to hearing other people's thoughts on this topic, and any ideas that people have come up with. I'm very excited about this forum, and hope that we can grow together. Thanks!


Subject: Spiritual Sweaters
By: Mordechai Torczyner

This past week, I was asked the following question: If Judaism recognizes that spirituality, and approaching Gd, is the purpose of the Mitzvos, then why should a person do the Mitzvos if he does not feel that feeling of approaching Gd?

This (somewhat odd) comparison was one part of my answer:
How would you find the spirituality in the act of putting on a sweater?

My friend's response was based entirely on knowledge of what a sweater is, and what it does. It dealt with fibers, and feelings of cold and warmth, and similar points.

This wasn't what I wanted to know, though. I wanted to know how one would _go about trying to find_ the spirituality in it. The answer, to my mind, is by experimentation. Put the sweater on. Feel it; examine it. Wear it. See how it affects you, see how it changes you.

The same, to me, is true for Mitzvos. Gd has given us Mitzvos, and we are supposed to come close to HaShem via these Mitzvos. A person who waits to "feel spiritual" before practicing the Mitzvah will not be able to learn the spirituality of the Mitzvah, any more than a person who has never worn a sweater will be able to learn the spirituality of the sweater. A person has to try it out, try it on, learn about it, work with it - and that is a way in which he can find HaShem in the Mitzvah.

Have a good Shabbos,

Mordechai Torczyner

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