#BlogElul 6 – Do



Oooh, a tricky one, Rabbi Sommer! Now we need to figure out the difference between “Act” and “Do”! I’m sure there is one … here we go!

So what does it mean to “do Jewish”? To many people, it has come down to the cultural trappings – the food of their grandparents, the tunes and if the world is lucky, the dedication to social justice.

The latter is not to be despised by any means – in this past week’s Torah portion we were told “Justice, justice shall you pursue”, and that is a very important Jewish value, something we must do and not merely contemplate. There are many more, of course.

In my #BlogElul post about action I talked about Judaism being a religion of action rather than faith. In particular, the Torah is said to contain 613 mitzvot, or commandments, that provide a framework for living a truly Jewish life.

In reality, nobody can perform 613 commandments. Some of them are impossible in the absence of the Temple (such as bringing sacrifices), some can only be carried out in the Land of Israel (tithing of produce is one example).

One would think that every observant Jew would be taking on every single one of the others, but life is rarely so simple. Observance is a ladder, and each of us is on a journey along the rungs. Sometimes we move up, occasionally (not often, we hope) we find ourselves moving down. Most of the time we find ourselves stagnating, unless we take deliberate action to go one way or the other.

This concept of a spiritual ladder is one that can be useful to all people, not just Jews. Whatever road you believe will take you to a higher level of consciousness is always worth travelling. Surely the world is a better place when people think about spiritual matters and strive to improve themselves.

This time of Elul is a good one to think about where we are on this spiritual ladder and what we can do to move ourselves up to a higher rung. We will benefit from this ourselves, and so will the world as a whole.

What will you do to bring yourself and the world to a higher level?

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