I am searching for more spirituality in life. Since I am Jewish, I guess it makes sense to start investigating Judaism. What do you suggest for me in my search to bring more spirituality into my life?
The Path to Judaism is a Path to Finding Oneself.
A Person is composed of a body and a soul. The Soul is our essence, so discovering and searching for things that please the soul bring happiness, because you become your true self.
Thus people say “I want to be happy, I want to be me.” Deep down a person knows that when one will be themselves they will be happy.
The question people grapple with is “what is their true self.” Some think sometimes what Madison Avenue and the media portray as fun or funny is their self. But after trying what they propose, they might be amused but not necessarily satisfied. Why? Because pleasing the body and ignoring their soul, rarely brings lasting satisfaction. Pleasures that please the soul are those that ultimately bring happiness.
The goal of the soul is to be close with G-d. Anything that brings it closer to Hashem (G-d) will make the soul happy. Anything that distances it from G-d will sadden it. Thus pleasures that bring the soul closer to G-d will make a person happy. Pleasures that distance it from G-d will make it sad. Here is an audio that talks about the subject.
For a Jew, what pleases the Soul are pleasures that are congruent with the Torah and The Mitzvot
For a Gentile, what pleases their soul is to follow the Seven Noahide Commandments:
In Judaism Spirituality is Achieved through the Material and Physical World – ie, saying Brachas on Food, Eating a Shabbat Meal, Learning Torah.
Everybody’s path in discovering who they are is unique. For some it takes months, for some it takes years. Some never find out who they are because they are stuck in “follow the crowd” mode. Discovering Judaism and yourself is a lifetime pursuit – Every day is another opportunity to become better.
It’s better to take small, gradual steps to observe the Mitzvot and stick to them than to accept too much and fall backwards.
Each person is unique. And each person’s path to discover themselves is unique and special. Based upon the path I took to discover Judaism, here are some Suggestions:
Enjoy a Shabbat Meal:
Try to Spend a Shabbat Meal with an Observant Family in Your Neighborhood. A Shabbat with an observant family gives you a taste of what it is to enjoy spirituality through delicious food, pleasant company, singing and words of Torah.
Shabbat.com is a site that will help you find a hospitable family that will have you over for a Shabbat meal.
Or if you want to try Shabbat in your own home – order a Free Shabbat Candle Lighting Kit / Care Package from us here. It explains how to conduct a Shabbat at home.
You can also search the site for topics such as : Prayer, belief in G-d. The comments are also usually insightful as well.
The recommended links section is a good place to start for your search to learn about Judaism.
If you appreciate the style of a particular audio or article that suits sou, you can look up more by that same author.
There are a lot of Jewish sites that are not always “kosher”. the ones mentioned above are kosher. At the sites, see which subjects interest you and go from there.
Inspire Yourself in Israel
Our Site Jerusalem Life’s initial main objective was to guide people where to find spirituality in Israel. Here is the Link to Programs there.
G-d gave you a brain to think. It is good that you are using it to find out about your heritage. A person that does not will not fulfill their potential. One of our purposes of life – is to achieve a unique goal. Even if in the past we have failed, we always have a new chance. G-d is good and accepts sincere repentance.
The Torah encourages questions. If you have questions please feel free to ask them. Find an Orthodox Rabbi or Wife of a Rabbi that you feel comfortable with that you can contact with your questions.
Attend Services and Lectures:
To learn more about Judaism go to an orthodox Synagogue to listen to lectures. Speak with an Orthodox Rabbi or an Orthodox Jew. They will steer you in the right direction. If you could go to a Yeshiva (for men) or a Seminary (for Women) to learn Torah that is also good.
Try a New Mitzvah
Each Mitzvah helps you to create a relationship with the Creator of the Universe. Some people start with saying the Shema twice a day, saying prayers, lighting the Shabbat candles, saying the blessings on food. You decide.
Get FREE Judaica:
There are many FREE Judaica products available at the Jerusalem Life Site Like:
Aleph-Bet Cards – that have the Hebrew Alphabet Explained
Bracha Cards – that have the Blessings for eating
Good Health Card – that has the blessing said to thank G-d for the proper functioning of the body.
Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers – A Booklet that has beautiful ways to live a more fulfilling life
FREE Kiruv Judaica & Jewish Outreach Materials
I would suggest you start off by learning Pirkei Avot -Ethics of the Fathers. Artscroll has a nice edition. Here are their best sellers:
Spirituality is basically a feeling of closeness to a Higher Power – closeness to G-d. What Better source is there to become close to G-d than the Torah. It was the only document ever given by G-d to Man whose giving was witnessed by a nation of millions of people. Judaism is the only religion that makes this claim. No other religion does.
The greatest source of spirituality is Judaism. All the Great and lofty ideas of others are taken from Judaism.
What seems to be appealing to the heart is not a proof whether it is right or wrong. Many things seem appealing but are not proper – like excessive alcohol. Unfortunately, some go to the Far East or other religions seeking spirituality because it is appealing to the eye, when Judaism contains all the heights and lofty ideals they seek.
To find the truth you must use logic, not take a census of how many people adhere to a religion. If a billion people said 2 + 2 = 19 would you believe it? Also any religion’s point of view is a minority view – according to the rest of the world.
JL has a post that discusses What Jewish People Believe – the Foundations of Judaism & a post on How does one find G-d? – which talks about the path that Abraham, our Forefather took, to find G-d
Get Family & Friends Support:
For thousands of years, Judaism was the center of life of the Jewish People. It was only in the last two centuries that people started new movements. So going back to Judaism is getting in touch with your family’s roots and traditions.
Try to enlist support from your family and friends. Tell them you seek to enhance your spiritual life through discovering your Judaism. You can say you want to explore Judaism, because that is the Religion of your parent’s ancestors. You can tell them, about 300 years ago most all Jews were Observant. There were no such things as “movements.” You can say that just as they supported you in the past in school and social life and materially, you expect them to support you in your spiritual pursuit of Judaism.
There are three reactions they could have:
Whatever they say, don’t be discouraged. Deep down they will be happy that you are following Judaism. Your life will also be greatly enhanced. Ask an orthodox rabbi for advice on how to deal with it.
Tailor your observance of Mitzvot
In addition to some of the Mitzvah’s mentioned above, each person should slowly remove themselves from bad and start doing good.
For males they should consider taking upon themselves Mitvahs of daily prayer with Tephillin, Torah/Talmud study, etc.
For females they can join a women’s lecture series, learn about Challah and Tzniut – Jewish modesty. (A Hebrew site on Modesty: כתר מלכות – למען הקדושה והצניעות בהכוונת גדולי ישראל)
If you are daring you can go to Israel and enroll in a yeshiva or for women in a seminary.
Asking Hashem, the G-d of the Jews and the Universe, to help you to find the truth and make it easy for you to find the right people to guide you is also part of the effort you should make in addition to those mentioned above. This applies to anything you want to achieve or receive. You can preface your prayer by “Hashem, Please Help Me …”. In Your case “Hashem, Please Help Me to Find the Truth & What You Want me to Achieve in Life.”
The beginnings of the rekindling of the relationship between you & G-d are very special times. Enjoy it.