Our possessions are tools for living.
Food, money and clothing are essential.
Yet, there is another "life essential" that is more central to a Jew —
God was essential to our creation — and is essential to our existence every second. Our God-connection allows a personal relationship with The Master of the universe.
So, what makes it so hard to keep in touch with God? Plenty. This world is a busy place. There's not much time to think about our spiritual needs.
Today's Mighty-Consumer mentality, affluence and human pride make God seem distant — and makes Godly pursuits seem impractical.
A BIBLE TALE —
WITH A TAIL
This disconnect & distance had its origin in biblical days. Though the Jews at Mount Sinai experienced God with a clarity & vision we can't even imagine, only 40 days later they made mistakes in judgement that still haunt the nation.
||"The people saw that Moses had delayed in descending the mountain, and the people gathered around Aaron and said to him, 'Rise up, make for us a god that will go before us, for this man Moses who brought us up from the land of Egypt - we do not know what became of him!'"
The central icon of that dark era was a statue—
a golden calf.
Moses told the Jews in the desert he would ascend Mount Sinai, remain there 40 days, then bring down the teachings of the Torah. The people miscounted the days, and lost hope when Moses didn't return when expected.
With Moses absent, the people wanted a new figurehead or a point of focus. They should have kept their faith — but instead made a physical replacement — a statue of a golden calf.
It was a major mistake.
By opting for a material symbol they lost an element of faith & connection with God. It created a defect in the Jewish spirit that continues to mask our awareness of God's role and influence.
AN EMPTY HEART
The Jews in the desert felt a longing inside — a desire for connection. Be clear: God-created this sense of longing in all hearts for the purpose of drawing humanity closer to Him.
How many get the message? Today, Jews experience this same desire for inner completion, but many misunderstand their inner hunger. It's easier to fill inner emptiness with materialism and physical comforts. We can do better. The only remedy for what really pains us is a healthy influx of holiness — the true desire of the Jew inside.
Beware: The Golden Calf drives a hard bargain, but its a rip-off.
You'll never "get it all" — and you'll miss the best part of living — a deep relationship with God.
We understand the problem. Let's find a solution.
I'M OKAY —
NO IDOLS IN MY HOUSE
The "idol worship" of today is a mistake in understanding and priorities. If we mistakenly consider ourselves the primary determiner of our life's direction and accomplishments, we're taking personal credit for matters outside our sphere of influence, namely God's providence and guidance — we remake God in our image.
Jews who strive to acquire wealth & possesions, but forget God's desire that we acquire spiritual excellence have lost focus on what matters — God wants a deep personal relationship with every Jew.
PROBLEM SO BAD?
Though we may never know how badly our community is affected, each of us can surely look inside and estimate how our hearts have been affected.
THINGS OF THE WORLD
- Is God real — in our hearts?
- Is prayer real to us, or do our words flow forth from habit?
- When we learn, do we value the opportunity?
- When we do mitzvot, are we pleased for the chance, or burdened by the task?
STAY IN THE WORLD
That means, the physical items we use for living are only a means to an end. Since our possessions had their origins in this physical world, they must remain behind when our bodies die and our spiritual essence moves on to the next world.
||These items remain behind when you die — when your Neshamah (inner spirit) goes to meet your Maker:
Your house, your vacation home, Kosher-for-Pesach ocean cruises
Your furniture, your car(s), your iPod & iPhone
Your physical beauty, your clothing, your jewelry
Your Shabbos suit, your weekday suit, your hats, your bekeshe, your shtreimel, your favorite Purim costume
Your money, your stocks, your bonds, your mint condition SpiderMan issue #1
- Excess materialism brings the eventual loss of all things holy because material possessions only exist in this physical world.
- The Golden Calf Syndrome makes material desires seem appealing and primary.
- The mistaken focus on materialism has infiltrated all areas of Jewish life, all over the world — both secular and religious. It affects every Jew at some level.
- Focus on excess physical comforts has overshadowed Jewish desire for holy pursuits — the true role of a Jew in the world.
- No amount of involvement or affiliation with a synagogue, yeshiva, kollel or great religious leaders guarantees immunity from the deception of materialism.
- Jewish life practice must center around Kedushah and holy deeds to be unified with God's desire for the world — even at the cost of personal desires.
A NEW COURSE —
Now is the time to make repairs, and enhance the Jew inside. The depth of the challenge also provides tremendous opportunity: Since we are so familiar with the problem, we have a heightened awareness of the exact issues we can fix inside us.
Why is this so important now? As the military situation around the world is heating up so quickly, and as the many nations who hate the Jews are preparing for war, by what merit can we hope to survive attacks, if our inner spirit is lacking?
Enhancing our relationship with God draws down world-stabilizing holiness.
A good strategy for troubled times.