I recently had lunch with a team of highly experienced educators and writers. One member of the team, a relative newbie, was questioning some of the policies his team adheres to in their publications.

The team produces textbooks for teachers and students, and the language and style in the teachers’ manuals they produce is very different from the style employed in the student textbook.

“It doesn’t make sense!” he declared. “How can you have inconsistencies in the same set of books?!”

The other, long-tenured members in the room vehemently pushed back as I looked on in amusement. “You think we just came up with this yesterday?” one shot back. “This policy is the product of much thought, feedback, and deliberation! We’re not flying blind here!”

As I listened, I thought about that idea: Once you’ve gone through a legitimate process and come to a good conclusion, sometimes that’s really all you need.

The Tzitz

Parshat Tetzaveh details the eight garments the High Priest wore during his Temple service, including the “tzitz” — a golden plate engraved with the words “holy to G‑d,” worn on the forehead:1

It shall be upon Aaron's forehead . . . It shall be upon his forehead constantly to make them favorable before G‑d.2

Why is it so important to point out that this particular garment must always be worn, more than any of the other pieces of clothing? And what does it mean to be “constantly favorable before G‑d?” What is it about the tzitz being constantly on the High Priest’s forehead that curries favor before G‑d?

Do I Really Believe in this Stuff?

According to the Chassidic masters, bearing the tzitz on the forehead is symbolic of the process every Jew must undergo to ensure that he or she is “constantly being favorable before G‑d.” In other words, the tzitz and its continuous presence on the forehead is a larger story about how to preserve a constant commitment to G‑d.

To explain.

Judaism is not just a list of dos and don’ts. While it may seem that way, that’s just lazy thinking. At its core, Judaism is about forging a relationship with G‑d and bringing that relationship to bear in every aspect of one’s life.

Now, relationships are never easy. It’s hard enough to keep up with your social media account, so it’s certainly no small feat to create a meaningful and ongoing relationship with G‑d Himself. The good news is that a Jew is naturally inclined to be in that relationship, as he or she possesses a soul that is literally part of G‑d3 and organically attracted to its G‑dly source.4

The even better news is that Judaism is full of things to nurture that relationship. That’s one of the reasons we pray, study Torah, and do holy things. These acts are not just “things we do” or cultural quirks from millennia ago, but the bread and butter of our relationship with G‑d, the glue that brings us together.

Take prayer, for example. Say you do it properly: You take the time to study something inspirational, you reflect on it, and keep it in your mind and heart throughout your prayers. As you sway back and forth, you’re inspired, and you come to a real, well-informed full-throttled commitment.

The not-so-good news is that sushi, ESPN, the daily news, and mortgage payments get in the way of that relationship. After you’re done with prayers and you’re at the office, in your car listening to a random podcast, or in the gym, all that deep thinking and passionate holy stuff is a distant memory.

Now you’ve got a real problem: You can’t drop everything and go for an intense prayer or study session in the middle of your meeting or morning jog.

Is all lost? Are you to abandon G‑d until you next have the time and are actually in the mood of plugging into your spiritual side?

Wear on Your Forehead

This is where the tzitz comes in. If you recall, the Torah instructs that it be worn constantly on the forehead. Not over the heart, but specifically on the forehead, where everyone can see it. The emphatic declaration, “Holy to G‑d,” is worn on the outside, on a visible part of your body.

The message it imparts is that it’s OK not to engage in deep reflection at all hours of the day. But you need to carry the conclusion, the bottom-line commitment, with you all day. Put that on your forehead, program a reminder on your phone, and you’re good to go. Then, you’ll be “constantly favorable before G‑d.”

If someone challenges your relationship with G‑d, or you question it yourself throughout the day, you don’t need to worry that a deep and passionate reply isn’t ready from the hip. “Oh no, do I really believe in this stuff? Does my relationship with G‑d mean anything right now? And if it does, why am I feeling so desensitized and cynical about the whole thing?” you ask yourself.

These can be disturbing thoughts, and if you’re not fully in touch with the reality of the situation, they can threaten the bedrock of your religious relationship. But don’t worry: just because you’re not passionate about prayer right now doesn’t mean you’re no longer a believer.

Remember that your decision and your commitment is not primitive or ill-informed. You made it with great gusto and authenticity a few days ago when you were blown away by something you learned. Pretty soon, you’ll be back there—when you have the time and mindspace. You’re operating on the conclusion today—and that’s enough for now.

The Human Relationship Mirror

And so it is with our human relationships. Suppose you’re deeply connected with someone, in a long and committed relationship. The wisdom of the tzitz states that you don’t need to go into a deep romantic session every day, at every moment of the day. That is neither practical nor wise.

Of course, periodically, you absolutely should do just that. Dedicate time to engage in real moments of connection and commitment, when your feelings for each other aren’t just fleeting or the product of convenience or habit. Take the time to nurture and develop a real connection, and during those moments, recall and reestablish your firm, loving, and well-informed commitment.

And then, carry the conclusion of your commitment with you throughout the days, weeks, and months that follow. Wear it on your forehead constantly, so that you can easily recall it. “Why am I doing this?” you ask yourself. “Because I thought and felt about it many times, and this is real,” is your answer.

You’re operating on the conclusion today—and that’s great.5