More than anything, I love the individual time I spend with our pre-B’nai Mitzvah students, getting to know them, studying together their Torah portion, and exploring their ideas about God, Torah and Judaism. Without fail, they each surprise me (often teaching me), as they open my eyes to an enlightening perspective on the parasha (Torah portion) or a new way of relating to the Holy One. This week, Lauren Perlmutter articulated an almost universal truth about how some of us relate to God. While her Bat Mitzvah service is still weeks away, her wisdom needed to be shared now.
I asked Lauren what she believes about God. She wrote:
If someone were to ask me what I believed about God, I would say I honestly am not sure. When I am at my Jewish summer camp, Camp Newman, in closing circle, praying before we eat a meal, or doing Havdallah with all my friends, I do believe someone or something is there. It makes God feel real. At home, however, in daily life, I do not always think about God and the religious aspects of Judaism. If I were to take a step back from daily life, maybe I would feel the feeling that I have had with God in the past.
When we are immersed in a clear spiritual experience – Jewish summer camp, the High Holy Day services, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah service, a funeral, a hike in a National Park – God’s presence is almost tangible. Yet as we leave that moment, the experience often recedes as our distance increases.
Here’s where young Lauren’s simple wisdom is most erudite: Were we to take a step back – from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives – putting ourselves purposely, mindfully in a place/ritual/experience/moment that holds spiritual potential, we might feel the feeling that we once had with holiness or the Holy One… with God.
Spirituality – holiness – like wireless internet – is all around us. If we run around so much, if we fail to turn on our AirPorts (wireless internet receivers), we will miss the awesome, amazement that surrounds us.
This Shabbat, take a step back:
- Hike through the mountains
- Walk on the seashore
- Come to Shabbat family services (Bay Laurel Elementary School at 7:30 pm)
- Light candles, make kiddush, bless challah
- Ask your loved ones when they have ever felt close to God
- Read through the prayerbook
- Do yoga
- Talk to God
You might be amazed at the feeling you begin to feel again!