I’ve been feeling hypocritical lately for doing things that are Jewish once in a while, when there are so many “all-the-time” traditions that I don’t keep. For example, I don’t pray, and hardly go to the synagogue. Then, when the “easy” opportunities come along—like attending the Passover Seder meal, or lighting Chanukah candles, I feel like I would be “taking advantage” of the once-a-year traditions… Therefore, I just don’t do any.

What do you think?


That would be a correct way of thinking if G‑d was interested only in perfectly functioning human beings, kind of like we are interested only in perfectly functioning gadgets and appliances. For example, we want our cell phones to work all the time, our computers to do everything they’re programmed to do at any given moment, our washing machines to clean the clothes fully in every single load. If they don’t do those things, we wonder what’s wrong and look around for a replacement that will do the job better.

But G‑d created us fallible, knowing full well we wouldn’t perform like angels or even well-programmed robots. He knew we wouldn’t just present the occasional glitch, a missed prayer or a nasty piece of gossip out of the blue.

G‑d knew we’d make mistakes every day, ignore things we should be doing frequently and do things we know we shouldn’t. G‑d created us anyway, because the pleasure He derives from each singular mitzvah and Jewish tradition that we do fulfill, and the eternal bond with Him that this fulfillment creates, is of immeasurable value. In light of those gems, the glitches are worthwhile.

So would G‑d appreciate your praying more often? Sure. But that has nothing to do with performing another tradition. Each mitzvah you do stands on its own merit, regardless of whatever else you do or don’t do. It’s those you do fulfill that make it all worthwhile and, believe it or not, give you strength to keep on going. And I promise you, G‑d is not watching you light the Sabbath candles this week and thinking, “Hey! You hypocrite! Since when do you do any Jewish traditions anyway?”

Rather, He’s looking at you and pleading, “Come on, this is an easy one. I’m telling you, you can do it. It will only take a minute . . .”

Go for it. It can bring only good things.