It’s not hard to find wonderful sermons and drashim (Torah Lessons) emphasizing the urgent need to repair our relationships with others and with The Creator in preparation for the Yomim Noraim (Days of Awe, Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur). The high visibility of these topics in no way diminishes their importance.
We also have to examine our relationship with ourselves. I don’t mean here “are we taking care of our happiness, self-esteem and health, both emotional and physical?” since I assume that we’re already aware, often too aware, of these needs. Rather, I want to focus our examination to our spiritual lives, specifically how we employ our special technology, halacha (religious rules, laws, obligations and prohibitions) for its intended purpose: bringing us closer, step by step, to our ultimate goal of approaching and uniting with The Creator.
No, this isn’t a plea to add new mitzvot to our current practice (even though none of us do all we can). It’s also not advice on how we can perform mitzvot in order to feel better about ourselves, although that might actually be a partial meter of how well we’re doing (more on that in a later article).
Rather, while we’re taking our “regular” cheshbon nefesh (literally, accounting of the soul), let’s examine each of the mitzvot, both positive/mandate and negative/prohibition, that we’re currently aware of at least attempting, to ask if the way we’re performing them, including our kavvana (intention), style (the strictest way or most lenient or balanced), effort and more, is bringing closer or farther from God. That’s really the point of it all.
As I’ll discuss in detail in upcoming articles, this is an impossible measurement to make with precision. Nonetheless, just asking the question, ideally with a friend and/or mentor but even on our own, as we examine our current practice, mitzva by mitzva, is a first step many of us have yet to take. Hopefully it will give us a systematic tool to help us take this journey farther rather than merely walk in circles.
Ketiva v’Chatima Tova