Warning: This is an uninspiring message.

Wait! Before you stop reading, please hear me out.

I’ll be honest. If someone were to approach me and ask, “Do you feel proud and grateful to be a Jew?” I would answer an immediate “Yes.”

“Do you strive to connect to G‑d and your Jewish heritage through Torah study and mitzvot?”

“Yes,” again.

“Do you find each mitzvah inspiring and fulfilling?”

Here is where my answer changes to “Sometimes.”

Let me explain:

If souls could be categorized by type, I’d classify myself in the “Spiritual/ Emotional” category. I can feel my soul’s power turning on Prayer, song, meditation, a Chassidic farbrengen, a heart-to-heart talk with someone in need ... I am there. Fully. In these moments, I can feel my soul’s power turning on, radiating energy waves to every limb in my body. I feel alive, inspired, charged.

But there are other mitzvot that don’t have that same effect on me. They don’t necessarily trigger my spiritual/emotional antennae.

And that is how I learned the difference between spirituality and Judaism. So often, we mistake them for being one in the same. But there is a subtle yet profound distinction.

Simply put, spirituality feels spiritual. Obvious, you say, but let’s think about it for a minute. Spirituality has no defined boundaries or parameters; it can be anything beyond the physical and material. As such, we seek out a spiritual path beyond our earthly existence that leaves us feeling uplifted, inspired, motivated, at peace, connected to a deeper place within ourselves.

Make no mistake about it: Judaism should feel like all those descriptions. It should feel uplifting. It should feel inspiring, motivating, and peaceful. It should be a way of connecting to a deeper place within ourselves. We say in the V’zot HaTorah prayer sung in shul each Shabbat upon the lifting of the Torah, D’racheha darchei noam v’chol n’tivoteha shalom, “The ways of Torah are pleasant, and its ways are that of shalom, peace.”

But it doesn’t end there. Because Judaism is not just a path of spirituality; it is so much more. It is a relationship. An eternal, unbreakable and essential bond that we, finite human beings, share with Our Creator.

We all know that relationships don’t always feel like peaches and cream. Sometimes, we don’t feel inspired. We don’t see how doing or not doing X, Y or Z for the other in our relationship will make a difference. But that is exactly when the relationship reaches a pivotal point, a defining moment. That is when we do it just for the other—simply because that is what they have asked of us. Because it makes a difference to them. We show up. We do what we have to do (or don’t do what it is we’re asked not to).

Sounds uninspiring? Perhaps.

But is it a commitment to a relationship? You bet!

The beauty that is unique to a real, committed and loyal relationship has just emerged. You’re officially connected, authentically connected.

You are in a real relationship. And that is priceless.

Truly successful people do not measure their success by how much money they make or what kind of car they drive. Truly successful people recognize the loved ones in their lives with whom they share authentic relationships as the litmus test of their accomplishments. And that is why in our old age (G‑d willing, may we all live to a ripe old age), all that matters are loving family and friends who surround us. Real relationships have no price tag.

Is it hard work? Of course! It’s kind of uninspiring to be uninspired. But the results, the connection born from putting aside one’s own feelings for the other ... ahh! That is priceless indeed.

My friend recently recounted a conversation she had with her father as a child that left an indelible impression on her. Her mother wasn’t feeling well one day and decided that it must be from the mold created by the very large pile of autumn leaves decomposing on their lawn. Though the doctor didn’t see this as a plausible cause, her mother felt that these leaves were the culprit.

Without missing a beat, my friend’s father asked herHe was the last person you would see doing yardwork to join him in getting rid of the leaves. Her father was a distinguished rabbi with an extremely demanding schedule; he was the last person you would usually see doing yardwork. But he raked away every last leaf, not even wanting to hire someone to do the job.

My friend turned to him as they raked and asked, “This is a huge job. Why are we doing this? Do you really think this will even make a difference in the way Mom feels?”

Her father’s words have stayed with her to this day: “That is not the point, sweetheart. All that matters is that this is what Mom needs from us now.”


Let’s keep on doing and increasing those mitzvot that come naturally to us, that feel spiritually uplifting from the get-go. Judaism should feel beautiful, joyful, spiritual. Each mitzvah is so precious and forges an authentic connection with G‑d.

Let’s also take a few minutes to think about those other mitzvot. We all have them. Those mitzvot that feel uninspiring to us or perhaps too daunting to even take a first baby step towards. Perhaps it’s praying at a time when you’re just not feeling it. Or discussing with the rabbi how to designate an hour or two to shut off all gadgets and electronics, driving, and working, to observe Shabbat with family and friends. Maybe it’s a discussion about how to take the first steps in keeping a kosher kitchen.

No, it may not feel as inspiring or spiritually fulfilling (at first) as the mitzvah of visiting the sick or attending a Shabbat synagogue service. But there’s a powerful energy that lies precisely there. Here is where you get to turn to G‑d and say, “This one G‑d, is just for You!”