Fusing the Ritual and the Spiritual

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We all want to have meaning in our lives. Every person I know does not want to go to work merely to make money. We go to work to make an impact on the world. The doctor wants to help people live a healthier and longer life, the lawyer wants his client to receive justice, the bagger at a supermarket wants the food packed correctly so the customer does not hurt their back with a bag that is too heavy or so the glass jars won’t crack.

In the nonprofit world, organizations should, and many do, focus on their core mission — from an institution eradicating disease in a developing country to a synagogue or JCC providing access to Jewish experiences in a rural or not so rural community.


In our personal lives, as well, we want to infuse our daily life with meaning and purpose. The Jewish people were blessed with a Torah, a guide book, to infuse our daily lives with uniquely Jewish ways of connecting with Hashem, creating the meaning and purpose our souls yearn for. The Torah gives us a general outlook; we are responsible to be a role model of morality, a role model of kindness, “a light unto the nations.”

The Torah details how to do so; by following the details of the guidebook, doing our best to increase in our observance of the Torah and its mitzvot. That means fulfilling the rituals as defined by halacha, together with the spirit behind the rituals, becoming truly spirit and ritual infused, known in modern parlance as spiritual.


When we view ourselves as a shining light, we automatically act more in line with our self-definition and act in accordance with that light.

A Jew in Harford County once told me that he is a “bad Jew” and I will only see him on Yom Kippur. My response: “You are a good Jew and I can prove it, I will see you on Yom Kippur.” I then continued that he can be a good Jew who does better by doing more the day after Yom Kippur, to infuse Judaism in his daily life even if I will not see him until the next Yom Kippur. The example I gave him was downloading the daily Torah study or the Rabbi Gordon app from harfordchabad.org/app and studying daily on his commute.

Meaning comes by defining ourselves properly and then taking an action that proves that definition as true.

Have a spi-ritual Shabbos.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman is spiritual leader of Harford Chabad in Bel Air.

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