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Enlivened

Enlivened

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My experience of the Jewish year can look like the following: On Rosh Hashanah, I listen to a ram’s horn being blown about 100 times. Two weeks later, I hold a date palm frond in my hand and shake it with myrtle branches and willow branches. I add a citron for good measure, and I have the Four Kinds. I eat in a hut for a couple of days in the fall, and munch on large unleavened crackers in the spring. And I do all of the above without the slightest bit of feeling for it.

The good thing is, G‑d didn’t just leave us with a list of commandments. Granted, if G‑d would have commanded us to chop wood all day, we'd do that. But He also gave us the ability to understand the meaning and symbolism behind many of the mitzvahs so that they don’t remain dry.

That's where learning Torah comes in. In chapter six of Ethics of the Fathers, the verse says, "Torah is greater for it gives life to those who practice it." Besides increasing our physical and spiritual health, Torah gives life and vitality to the commandments we already perform.

When we hear the shofar, we can think of the pure call of the soul, yearning to connect to its creator. When we take the Four Kinds and shake them, we can celebrate the differences among our fellow Jews, and how we are all truly united at our core. We can sit in a sukkah and feel like it is a hug from G‑d, and we can eat matzah and appreciate the humility and healing it brings.

And when we feel that a particular mitzvah is lifeless, or comical, or something in between, our holy Torah has a way to enlighten us about the mitzvah and enliven the way we perform it.

Thoughtstream: Today, I will enliven one mitzvah I do by learning one small thing about it.

(Adapted from Pirkei Avot, Kehot, p. 209; the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Biurim L’Pirkei Avot.)

Sara Blau is a teacher and extracurricular director at Beth Rivkah High School. She is a wife, mother, and author of several children“s books.
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Bracha Goetz Baltimore June 30, 2015

Wonderful! Reply

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