Person: “Rabbi, what can I do to make my days feel more meaningful?”
Rabbi: “Try some mitzvot and Jewish spiritual practices.”
What’s a spiritual practice?
A spiritual practice refers to regular, purposeful actions we do in order to transform our lives from everyday regularity and habit into sacred, meaningful moments. Whether chosen from the 613 mitzvot (Jewish obligations) of Torah or from other customs passed down, spiritual practices can uplift and inspire.
Jewish mitzvot direct us to live lives infused with meaning and value. Our blessings reveal the underlying message of our mitzvot (religious commandments), when we say asher kiddishanu b’mitzvotav – who makes us HOLY through Jewish obligations. We do Jewish actions in the hope that they will lead us to holy, spiritual living.
Four Favorite Jewish Spiritual Practices:
1. Counting 3 Blessings
In a notebook or on a smartphone, keep a running list each night of three experiences or moments daily for which you are thankful. If you miss a day or two, don’t sweat it. Start again on the current day.
2. Bedtime Shema and Hashkiveinu
Spend three minutes (that is all it takes) reaffirming the oneness of existence and the hope for a safe sleep by reciting or singing these prayers. Read about the bedtime Shema, then say the prayers in Hebrew and listen to them in song.
3. Morning Modeh Ani
Upon waking, recite a morning meditation giving thanks for your life and soul. Read the prayer in Hebrew and listen to it in song.
Modeh Ani (for a male) OR Modah Ani (for a female)
L’fanecha, Melech chai v’kayam, sheh-heh-cheh-zartee neesh-ma-tee, b’chemla rabbah emunah-teh-cha.
Poetic Translation: Thankful am I in your Presence,
Spirit who lives and endures,
for You have returned to me my soul with compassion.
Abundant is your faith!
4. Midday Mincha: “Mincha” refers to the afternoon prayers. Set an alarm for sometime between 2-4 pm. When the alarm sounds, turn away from your computer, your phone, and your responsibilities. For 3-5 minutes, just sit quietly doing nothing but just “being.” Perhaps get out of your chair and sit on a couch or another place in the office. Perhaps close your eyes.
What are your favorite spiritual practices that can make your day more meaningful?