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My "Uninspiring" Message

Monday, 23 March, 2020 - 11:22 am

Today’s post is the uninspiring post. Wait!! Before you stop reading (after all, I did promise you inspiring messages with this Whatsapp group), please hear me out for a few minutes 😊😊

Let’s be honest. If someone were to approach me and ask: “Do you feel proud and grateful to be a Jew?” an immediate YES. “Do you strive to connect to G-d and your Jewish heritage through Torah study and Mitzvot?” Yes again. “Do you find each Mitzvah inspiring and fulfilling? Here is where my answer changes to SOMETIMES.

Yes, that’s right. Let me explain:

If souls could be categorized by type, I’d classify myself in the “Type Spiritual/ Emotional” category. Prayer, song, meditation, a Chassidic farbrengen, a heart to heart talk with someone in need- I am there. Fully. In these moments, I can feel my soul’s power turning ON, radiating energy waves to every limb in my body. I feel alive, inspired, charged.

But there are other Mitzvot that don’t have that same effect on me (I wont enumerate those right now..Not all my secrets at once😊). They don’t necessarily trigger my spiritual/emotional antennae.

And that, my dear friends, is how I learned the difference between SPIRITUALITY and JUDAISM. So often we mistake them for being one in the same.  But there is a subtle yet profound distinction.

Simply put, spirituality feels spiritual ( Duh, you say😊) But lets think about it for a minute. Spirituality has no defined boundaries or parameters. It can be anything beyond the physical and material. As such, we seek out a spiritual path beyond our earthly existence that leaves us feeling uplifted, inspired, motivated, at peace, connected to a deeper place within ourselves.

And make no mistake about it. Judaism SHOULD feel like all those descriptions above. It should feel uplifting. It should feel inspiring, motivating, peaceful, a way of connecting to a deeper place within ourselves, etc. As we say in the V’zos HaTorah prayer sung in shul each Shabbbat upon the lifting of the Torah: “D’racheha Darchei Noam V’chol N’sivoseha Shalom..The ways of Torah are pleasant and its ways are that of Shalom-peace”.

But it does not end there. Because Judaism is not just a path of spirituality. It is so, so, so much more. It is a relationship. An eternal, unbreakable, and essential bond that we, finite human beings, share with Our Creator- HaShem.

And we all know that relationships don’t always feel and look like peaches and cream at any given time. Sometimes we don’t feel inspired. We don’t see how doing or not doing XY or Z for the other in our relationship will make a difference. But that is exactly when the relationship reaches a pivotal point, a defining moment. That is when we do it just for the other. Simply because that is what they have asked of us. Because it makes a difference to them. We show up. We do what we have to do (or don’t do what it is were asked not to).

Sounds uninspiring? Perhaps.

But, commitment to a relationship? You bet!

The beauty unique to a real, committed, and loyal relationship has just emerged.

You’re officially connected, authentically connected.

You are in a real relationship. And that is priceless.

That is precisely why truly successful people do not measure their success by how much money they make or which car they drive. Truly successful people recognize the loved ones in their lives with whom they share an authentic relationship, as the true litmus test of their accomplishments in life. And that is why, in our old age, (G-d willing, may we all live to a ripe old age), all that matters are the loving family and friends that surround us. Real relationships have no price tag.

Is it hard work? Of course! It’s kinda uninspiring to be uninspired. But the results, the connection born from putting aside one’s own feelings for the other, Ahhhh! Priceless indeed.

My friend recently recounted a conversation she had with her father as a child that left an indelible impression on her. Her mom really wasn’t feeling well one day. Her mom decided that it must be from the mold created by the very large pile of autumn leaves decomposing on their lawn. Though the doctor didn’t see this as a plausible cause, her mom felt that these leaves were the culprit. And so without missing a beat, my friends father asked her to join him in getting rid of the leaves. Her father was a distinguished Rabbi with an extremely demanding schedule. He was the last person you’d see doing yardwork. But he raked away every last leaf, not even wanting to hire someone to do the job for him. My friend turned to him at one point as they were raking and asked “This is a huge job. Why are we doing this. Do you really think this will even make a difference in the way Mom feels?” And then came her father’s words, which have stayed with her to this day: “That is not the point, sweetheart. All that matters is that this is what Mom needs from us now”. Powerful!

Let’s keep on doing and increasing in those Mitzvot that come naturally to us. That feel spiritually uplifting from the get-go. Judaism should feel beautiful, joyful, spiritual. Each Mitzvah is so very precious and forges an authentic connection with HaShem. 

Then, let’s also take a few minutes to think about those other Mitzvot. We all have them. Those Mitzvot that feel uninspiring to us or perhaps too daunting to even take a first baby step in. Perhaps its praying at a time when you’re just not feeling it. Or discussing with the Rabbi how to designate an hour or two on Shabbat to shut off all gadgets and electronics, driving, and working, to observe Shabbat with family and friends. Maybe it’s a discussion about how to take the first steps in keeping a kosher kitchen.

No, it may not feel as inspiring or spiritually fulfilling (at first) as the Mitzvah of visiting the sick or attending a Shabbat synagogue service. But there’s a powerful energy that lies precisely there. Here is where you get to turn to HaShem and say “This one HaShem- is just for YOU!”

Hard at first? Its very possible. But the deepening of this unbreakable bond with the Infinite, HaShem Himself, Creator of Heaven and Earth…AHHHH! Priceless….

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