I go jogging every Friday afternoon and often pass your synagogue. I see you are getting some nice crowds. To be honest I don't see why people go to services every single Shabbat. I go once or twice a year and that seems quite enough!


I am glad to hear that you have taken up jogging. But do you really have to jog every week? Isn't once a year enough? Of course not, you will say. To stay fit you have to keep a regular schedule. If you don't exercise enough the body becomes sluggish and lazy. People who don't exercise may say they feel fine, as if they really don't need to exercise at all. But really they're fooling themselves - they are so lazy that they can't face the fact that they're out of shape.

At the same time, if you exercise too much you may overdo it and injure yourself; then not only can't you exercise - you collapse! You have to challenge your body and stretch it to its limits, but not beyond its limits. If you hit the right balance between overdoing and underperforming, then your fitness gradually improves, and in time you find that you can do much more and it gets much easier.

The health of the soul is similar to the health of the body. If we don't challenge ourselves spiritually, we can easily become complacent and settle for a life of monotony and mediocrity. We become so desensitized that we don't even feel we are missing anything. But if we try to change our lives too fast and jump into spirituality, we can burn out and fall lower than we were before.

Each person has to realistically assess what they need to do to keep their souls in shape. Where am I getting my inspiration from? When was the last time I made internal changes and grew as a person? Am I pushing myself to my soul's limits or just coasting? How can I challenge myself to advance my spiritual fitness?

Going to synagogue is one form of spiritual exercise. It is a time to flex the muscles of the soul through prayer, contemplation and study. For some it would be overdoing it to go every week; perhaps once a month would be challenging enough. For others, once a week is just the right balance. Then there are those for whom once a week is not enough - they need to be there every day to keep their souls fit.

Sometimes you need a "trainer" to advise you where to start and what to do next. I think I know just the rabbi you need...