Over the past few months, we’ve been continuing the conversation about what it means to “have it all”. In my last monthly post, I proposed that this slogan breeds discontent if we cannot prioritize what we want “it all” to be. Focus is key; nonetheless, sharply defining “it all” is hard, necessary work. As other authors in this blog contributed, this often requires a deeply individual process of framing one’s own achievements and identifying one’s true goals. However, since this blog seeks to examine parts of our lives and the society in which we live through the lens of women clergy, I want to ask a more specific question. Namely:
Can we “have it all”, spiritually?
It is a dirty secret in rabbinical school that we rarely discuss spirituality – especially the personal experience of the Divine – in depth. Yes, there is the occasional seminar here or brief class there; however this topic, which compels so many into the rabbinate, often gets lost amongst the need to engage in other kinds of important learning and growth. Instead, it is up to the individual to continuously replenish his or her own proverbial spiritual well.
But, O, Dear Heavens, how do you actually do that?
The Institute for Jewish Spirituality establishes six elements to Jewish spiritual practice. (Outlined here.) They guide learners through five distinct, yet potentially intertwined methods to engage in spiritual practice. They are:
- Tefillah (prayer)
- Talmud Torah
- Mindfulness meditation
- Yoga (or an embodied practice)
- Tikkun middot
IJS teaches these practices in an intensive – and much lauded – retreat environment. This is incredible and can be much needed; but personally, I have always had trouble transitioning my retreat resolutions into regular realities.
Certainly, I am not an expert in this field; at best, I am a curious novice. For me, in my day-to-day, what replenishes my connection to the Divine cannot be an in-depth, private, enriching engagement in text study or even meditative practice. Because, honestly, I just don’t have the time or energy. So, over the next few posts let’s explore a little bit of spirituality together. And see if we can “have it all”, spiritually. Five minutes at a time or so. If that’s even possible. I’ll share what I’ve gathered so far, and I would love to hear about the progress you are making – or any break-throughs you are having – in the comments below.
Rabbi Lauren Ben-Shoshan lives in Tel Aviv, Israel. About forty-five minutes north of here.