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.

Giving Thanks

If one offers it for thanksgiving. Leviticus 7:12

Sacrifices dominate the beginning of Leviticus; we are instructed in how to, what kind and what for. Since the Torah was received and orally transmitted, it was also said by the early sages and later the Rabbis that when we entered the Messianic era there would not be any need for sacrifices. But the offer of thanksgiving would never end.

The prayers of giving thanks must be more important and of special significance in our lives. Accordingly if we are on a journey of spiritual renewal then it makes sense to be thankful in our prayers each and every time we pray. We are being more aware of things we should be thankful for, then it behooves us to bring them front and center in our prayers. Renewal sharpens our senses, and makes us more appreciative of the wonders of the universe and just how fortunate we are. The Power of the Universe that makes it all possible is deserving of daily, moment-to-moment, thanks.

If ever there is a question of a Higher Power in our lives, we need only behold the heavenly skies at night, or the landscape of a beach with an unlimited view of the ocean and the sun setting. Spiritual growth can begin with simplicity, “God I don’t know if you are there, but if you are, thank you.”

Our prayers of thanks slowly become more than just utterances from our lips, they become an expression of the life we are living and the acts of goodness we perceive and pursue.

Restore Us To Sanity

“And you shall make boards for the Tabernacle of acacia wood…”—Exodus 26:15.

This week’s portion gives the guidelines for the construction of the Tabernacle, the portable sanctuary that the Children of Israel carried with them throughout their forty-year sojourn in the desert.

The walls of the Tabernacle were to be made from gold encased planks of wood taken from the acacia tree. In Biblical Hebrew, the term for this type of wood is “wood of shitim.” The word “shitim” is related to the word “shtut” which means stupidity or madness. This double meaning infers that the builders of the Tabernacle were to take- warped thinking – and make an abode for God from it. The antithesis of, and rectification for irrational thinking is not rational thinking, but faith.

Faith is a type of thinking which serves as a sanctuary for the Presence of the Power of The Universe. Reason is the middle path; Irrationality is a deviation from it.

As every navigator knows, once a captain has drifted off course, he will never reach his final destination merely by traveling in the proper direction from now on. The person who has strayed can get back on track only by veering in the opposite direction of past deviations. In other words, a person whose pattern of thinking has definitely diverged from common sense, cannot correct the error by merely trying to think “normally” from now on. Though even someone who has always been “normal” can strongly benefit from a leap of faith, those whose rational minds have become twisted must make a radical shift toward the other extreme—toward the irrationality of faith.

Faith is not rational. If it were, it could not rightly be called faith, but reason. Reason is the tool for grasping that, which is knowable, while faith connects us to that which is unknowable—the wonder and mystery of existence.

Spiritual renewal restores us to sanity, Terumah; so there are two types of irrational thinking – one that falls short of rational thought, and one that transcends it. Irrational faith – not reason – is the opposite of and, more pointedly, the antidote for absurd and illogical thinking. The seeker’s obsession with self-destruction is less than rational, to put it mildly. Treating it with conventional psychological means is often futile and the prospects for success are grim.

A quality design for living is only accomplished by a psychic change, which is irrational, and requires faith.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you my Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer

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

Introspection The Rest of Your Life

It is the time of year before the beginning of the Jewish New Year to reflect on our choices as a person and member of a community. What has transpired in our relationships and how have we behaved. It is a time for introspection before we atone for our transgressions.
As we end the Jewish Year we are asked to do one thing: Choose Life, after accepting a Power greater than ourselves in creation and life we are asked to love the Almighty and live by the commandments, always keeping God in our lives, then we and our offspring shall live a life of joy and freedom.
We begin to ready ourselves for the Days of Awe (the Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement) with a fearless and moral inventory of our actions and thoughts. We are instructed to look at ourselves from the inside, to ask God for forgiveness and ready ourselves for repentance. The intent is to renew our God Consciousness and by words of prayer seek a Divine will for us. If we are to have a relationship with God, similar to Abraham’s (turning our life and our will over to God), and then we must be rigorously honest in all our affairs. When we have separated ourselves from our Higher Power by our bad choices, whether in thought or deed, we have prolonged our returning to that Higher Power. This is the time to examine that relationship with this Power and to either repair it or build a new one. We are given this opportunity at least yearly because we have a loving and kind God who only wants good for us. If we will only accept The Almighty’s will for us and be willing to put our relationship with The Power of the Universe above all else.
In the Book of Psalms there are daily reminders of our seeking God in our lives, and of the embrace constantly waiting for us. The covenant that is made with each of us before we are born is that “We shall be a light unto the nations.” This is both a burden and a blessing. We are chosen, to carry this message to others who are suffering and give away what has been freely given to us. As Uncle Ben channeling Voltaire says to Spidey, “with great power comes great responsibility”
The Rabbis say, “ One must repeatedly confide in another person, a spiritual counselor or trusted friend, all improper thoughts and actions which have come to one’s heart or mind. In this way, with God’s will, we can rid ourselves of our defects of character.” Just as we are told to Study Torah with someone else or in a group, never alone.
Once we have processed our limitations and asked God for help, we are prepared for reconciliation and forgiveness from those we have wronged. Even if we feel others have wronged us, it is our “side of the street” we are concerned with. We must examine what part we played in creating the resentment and seek forgiveness of our self from God and be forgiving of others.
Throughout this time of year we approach God and others with humility, we seek to understand rather than be understood, to comfort rather than to be comforted and to love without expecting to be loved. We want to bring peace and the spirit of forgiveness to all who we encounter.
The act of turning to a life of Spirit is a continual process, one that you work for The Rest of Your LIFE. We are given the opportunity for a fresh start every day. We cannot be concerned about how long it will take or where the end of this journey is, or we will never get there. The important thing is to find the road, get on it and stay there.
We seek spiritual progress, not spiritual perfection. Spirituality by definition is imperfect, as are human beings.

11th Step Prayer-My Version

God may it be your will that I be a messenger of your peace

May I bring love and the spirit of forgiveness to my fellows, may I know my truth and have faith

May I bring hope to others and live in harmony with all
May I share your joy and live in your Divine Light

Let me be of comfort to others without asking to be comforted
Let me be understanding of others without asking to be understood
Let me be loving of all without asking to be loved

It is by pardoning that we are pardoned, it is by giving freely of ourselves that we receive

Humble PrayMay the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you my Lord, My Rock and my Redeemer

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