Jewish Spirituality
Volume 30

By way of preface:

Jewish Spirituality - Volume 30

Re: Putting Spirituality to Work Re: Putting Spirituality to Work --
Subject: Re: Putting Spirituality to Work
By: Scott Spiegler

Hi all,

I wanted to add to Lisa Ravitz's post from last week. I too find that I need regular inputs of ruchniyus, in order to help keep me focused on the task of avodas HaShem. I was discussing this issue with a Chabad rabbi, and I wanted to share with the list what he shared with me.

According to (this Rabbi's take on) Chabad chassidus, the need for constant, spiritual inputs is essential to keep yourself focused on the spiritual tasks for the day. The demands of our animal soul quickly begin to drown out the messages being sent from the G-dly soul, if we don't supply ourselves with regular spiritual input during the day. Furthermore, the extent to which we are successful in doing battle with the demands of our animal soul is greatly dependent on how we start our day.

For a Jew, the prescription to start our day is with proper tefillah. Proper tefillah includes the morning brachas and the morning davening. And, it also includes preparing oneself to absorb this tefillah. According to this Rabbi, proper preparation means spending some time prior to davening learning Chabad chassidus. Learning chassidic philosophy orients the mind and the heart to be open to receiving what the morning tefillah has to offer us.

I am not making, necessarily, a case for learning only Chabad philosophy in the morning, though I find it to be particularly rich and satisfying. The point I want to make is about preparation. When we awake in the morning, our consciousness is very focused on the physical. Our sages tell us that this time when we first wake up is an auspicious time, during which we need to recognize our focus on the physical and help ourselves tune back into the spiritual aspect of ourselves. When I prepare for tefillah, rather than just jump into it, I am aware that my neshamah is more ready to take it in. It is akin to the difference in an exercise session where I do stretch out and warm up and one where I don't. I still exercise, regardless of my readiness, but my body works with me (rather than against me), when I help orient it to the tasks involved in exercise.

If morning prayer can be viewed as preparing the neshamah for the worldly challenges of the day ahead, then learning prior to davening (or meditation) can be seen as preparing for the preparation. I see it like priming a wall before you paint it. The paint will adhere in both cases, but the quality of the bond of the paint to the wall and the length of time that it will persist will be much different. Another analogy that comes to mind in this way is the difference between spending time with people who make me feel good about myself and those who don't. When I spend time with people who bring out my best traits, I find that I am more secure in myself aftwards when I interact in new situations. When I spend time with people who bring out more of my neurotic qualities, I am easily pushed off center in interaction that follow. To me, it is like eating good food that 'sticks to the ribs'. Preparing my neshama with pre-davening work makes the tefillah stick to my kishkes better.

May we all merit the sachel to provide ourselves with positive, reinforcing inputs during the day to keep our eyes on the prize, our service of G-d. May G-d bless us with the time to prepare ourselves for his healing tefillah.

Chanukah Sameach and Good Shabbos everyone,


Subject: Re: Putting Spirituality to Work
By: Scott Spiegler

I wanted to share with this list a 'listening' recommendation. On the commute to work this morning, I was listening to a cassette by this women singer, Sharie Sofair. The cassette is entitled, "Sharie: My Heart". Listening to the tape made me think of the post last week from Lisa Rivitz about getting spiritual input to keep the focus during the day on G-d.

I find her music both inspiring from a ruchniyus point of view and interesting musically. There is an obvious caveat which I must mention here- that is, it is a woman singing on a recording. So, given where one is holding in terms of Kol Isha, you need to consider this issue or consult your local Rav (or both). But, regardless of this issue, I do think it is a lovely example of good frum music that is a real pleasure to listen to and speaks to the part of me that needs reminding that G-d is ever-present in my day. I might mention that she has some beautiful interpretations of Carlebach niggunim that particularly appeal to me.

I think I bought this from a friend who had originally told me about it. Here is the information on the jewel case of the tape, in case you want to get it and have trouble finding/ordering it from a local bookstore or online.

Title: Sharie: My Heart
By: Sharie Yasguir Sofair

It also made me think that it would be great to hear from others reading this list what music or other kinds of tapes they are hearing and finding useful in terms of spiritual sustenance.

Enjoy, Scott

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