Jewish Spirituality
Volume 7

By way of preface:

Volume 7

Jewish Spirituality - Volume 7

Alan Krinsky

Re: Davening
Caren Torczyner

One with Gd
Scott Spiegler


Subject: Priorities
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
> impact.

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 a person.

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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