Spiritual Rules for Life

You shall be Holy to me… God said to Moses, Come up to me…”
Exodus 22:30-24:12

In this portion the translation of the title is ” spiritual rules”. The chapter sets out a series of rules; Moses prepares to detail them to the Israelites.

They are referred to as “mitzvot” and number 613. Interestingly 365 are “thou shall not” corresponding to the days of the year and 248 are “thou shall” corresponding to the number of joints in the body. Symbolizing that living these laws allows us to serve our Higher Power with all of our body and soul, all the time.

The laws are about worshiping other gods, kashrut (foods allowed to be eaten and those forbidden), business ethics and treatment of animals. God also provides an angel to protect the Israelites from their enemies, and warns the Israelites not to worship other gods.

Moses goes up to Mount Sinai to meet with God for 40 days and 40 nights. This all happens in addition to receiving the Ten Commandments.

Why does God beckon us to come? In Spiritual Renewal, we are seeking to be closer to the Sunlight of The Spirit, our souls are yearning for this relationship and it is given to us if we simply come to it.

What is it to be holy? It isthe result of doing the work and living by the “laws”. It is beyond human understanding and is there for us if we are willing.

It is the path of living more from our heart and less from our mind.

One of the things that spiritual renewal offers the individual is a sense of passion about living; the bonus is that it comes through humility.

Building Spiritual Renewal

Spiritual Renewal

Just as God had instructed Moses, the Israelites had done all the work… Exodus 39:42
These are the accounts of the Tabernacle… Exodus 38:21
…a hundred sockets for hundred talents, a talent for a socket.
Exodus 38:7

This is the last chapter of the Book of Exodus. God has forgiven the Israelites their transgressions and in binding the covenant insuring a lasting relationship based on prayer, community and willingness to have no other God.

It is not a coincidence that the instructions for building the Tabernacle include a specific number of sockets for the exact same number of talents. These refer to measures of silver and support beams for the structure. But more importantly Jewish law asks us to recite one hundred blessings every day, reminding us of the foundation of our spiritual renewal.

Creating a new structure requires starting with the base putting together new pieces connected with proper fasteners, wire, pipe and cement. It will not hold together if we simply patch the old. It is the same with our spiritual renewal; we must create it from the beginning.

Thanking the Sunlight of the Spirit one hundred times each day is an expression of our gratitude connecting us with God’s Power so that we may understand what we should do: the next right thing. Our mind is shifted from what is missing in our life to what we have to be thankful for.

Seeking the spiritual depth to recite one hundred blessings every day is progress on our path, and we seek progress not perfection. At the very least we are thankful every day to have today.

Thank You

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”
Meister Eckhardt

Some of us are more delusional than others, but delusion and grandiosity are commonly present in most alcoholics. My life was centered on perfection and the projection that I was always right. Saying or expressing thank you never crossed my mind. This wasn’t a compulsive disorder as much as it was arrogance and self-centeredness.

“Selfishness — self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. 
Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, 
we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes
they hurt us seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that
at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self
which later placed us in a position to be hurt.” Big Book

Several years ago a company recruited me to be its COO. It was an industry I was well acquainted with and the job came with a major increase in pay and responsibility. In my mind it was about time I was to be rewarded for my talents. This was while I was still a sober drunk without a program, steps or recovery.

It didn’t take long for me to alienate most of the employees and cause serious regrets by the owner of the company. My deluded self-absorption convinced me that I was doing a phenomenal job. I exposed company theft, poor decisions by ownership and a total lack of controls. I also did not waste any time letting everyone know how incompetent they had been and what actions we had to take to correct these poor decisions. Of course without any regard for the people I offended or feelings for them.

It took about six months for them tell me my services were no longer needed and I was dismissed. I left with resentments, anger, dishonesty and self-centered righteousness. I had been wronged and told everyone who would listen. Within six more months I was drinking again; much worse than before.

Within another six months I had crashed and burned. I crawled back into AA searching for an answer to the fear that if I drank again I would surely die.

Willingness to be teachable led me to a new path of recovery and a beginning to build a new life and a new mind. The 12 Steps, a sponsor and the unconditional love of people in the fellowship opened me to all the promises of AA.

I heard from one of my co-workers several months after I was dismissed that the owner of the company had remarked after I was gone that he had a God in his life and didn’t need another one.

Now it is time for me to do another 9th Step and make amends for the wreckage I caused with the people who gave me an opportunity that I destroyed. Thank God I learned how in the 12 Steps.

Selfless Prayer

“Pharaoh said, ‘I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the Lo­rd your God in the wilderness; only do not go far off—pray for me!'”—Exodus 8:24.

After the fourth of the ten plagues, Pharaoh acquiesces to Moses’ demand that the children of Israel be allowed to offer sacrifices to God in the wilderness. Later Pharaoh rescinds this permission. But at the moment of his anguish he tells Moses, “I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the L­ord in the wilderness; only do not go far off—pray for me!”

One’s ego is likened to an internal Pharaoh that enslaves a person’s higher self to do its bidding. Like Pharaoh, the ego seeks to deny our need to be free to serve our Higher Power. At times, however, our selfish nature realizes that a frontal offense against spirituality may provoke a persistent counterattack. So the ego employs a more innocuous method of thwarting our connection to The Sunlight of the Spirit. It allows us to seek spirituality, but inserts the condition, “Only do not go far off—pray for me!” In other words, go and serve your Higher Power, just don’t break free of me. When you pray, your prayers should be tinged with selfishness. In this way, the ego hopes to insidiously undermine the whole affair. Just as in the story of the Exodus, we are not truly free to serve God until we have made a complete break from Pharaoh and its power over us.

Although we may never rid ourselves of our egocentricity, we should at least refuse to bring it along during prayer.

In our spiritual renewal, one of the skills we to learn is how to pray. We discover that true prayer is free of all selfish motives. We don’t pray in order to beseech God to serve us, but the other way around. We pray in order to ask how we may be of better service —”Praying only for knowledge of God’s will and the power to carry that out.”

It is telling that the Hebrew word for prayer, tefillah, shares the same root as the Hebrew word for connection. The English translation denotes making requests. We don’t want to pray only to make demands. Ultimately, we pray to be connected. We pray to be selfless is our conversation with the Spirit- Selfless Prayer.

Even when we may ask for help, it is only for that which we believe will enable us to better do the work. In the event the answer is not clear or immediate, we humbly and gracefully accept that whatever it is we desired must not be necessary for our service. It may sound like overstating the obvious, but prayer is no exception to the rule governing all endeavors: The less of our ego we bring along with us, the more of The Power of the Universe we allow into us.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can
And Wisdom to know the difference

Regaining Self

By Rabbi Kerry Olitzky

Melodies I weave, songs I sweetly sing; longing for your presence, to you I learn to cling. – Anim Zemirot

This is what I try to do in prayer. I take the words that have been given to me by those who came before and weave them into my own, hoping that the melody I weave in my heart-this love song with the Divine-brings me closer to the Power of the Universe. Prayer books are filled with such melodies. I need only sing them and claim them as my own. In singing them, they become mine.

I long for God’s presence in my life. Whether I am willing or comfortable enough to admit it, I really do. Don’t we all? Such recognition for me adds meaning and purpose to my life. This is a difficult step in spiritual renewal. I wasn’t always comfortable with such talk. I got used to it by doing it and accepting the Sunlight of the Spirit. Sometimes I am afraid by accepting that Power in my life I may lose self. The truth was that when I accepted the Spirit, I regained my life.

How splendid is your light, which worlds do reflect.
My soul is worn for Your love’s delight.
Please good God, do heal her, and show to her Your face.
So my soul can see You and bathe in Your Peace.
There she will find strength and healing in this sight; Her joy will be complete, then Eternal her delight.
A Prayer-Yedid Nefesh