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Refining Life Itself...

Friday, 9 February, 2018 - 9:55 am

Just one week ago, we read the story of the dramatic revelation of G‑d to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai. It was a spiritual trip so powerful that every Jew literally had an out-of-body experience. The ultimate "wow!"

This week's follow-up, Mishpatim, is one of the longest Torah portions, containing an exhaustive list of over 50 separate mitzvot. Included are laws regarding murder, theft, property damage, etc.

The juxtaposition of these two Torah Portions is striking: After the spiritual high on Mount Sinai, why would G‑d "bring us down" (so to speak) with all the details and intricacies of our mundane daily life?! It's like being all heated up and then thrown into a cold shower.

Yet in truth, these portions are merely two sides of the same coin. The spiritual high of Sinai is gratifying, but it doesn't solve one problem of the world in which we live. Spirituality is not achieved by meditating alone on a mountaintop or by learning in an out-of-the-way monastery. Jewish spirituality comes through grappling with the mundane world in a way that uplifts and elevates.

Jews don’t retreat from life, we elevate it. Tonight, we will raise the cup of wine and use it - not to get drunk - but to make Kiddush and sanctify the Sabbath day; sanctifying time iteslf. Spirituality, says Judaism, is to be found in the kitchen, the office, and yes, even in the bedroom.

And through the combined efforts of the entire Jewish people resting upon centuries of mitzvoth, we will, no doubt, very soon merit to witness the accomplishment of our refining and elevating acts with the coming of the righteous moshiach – a truly spiritual world.

Shabbat Shalom,

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