Beyond a Better Lifestyle

I’m not happy about my “Making Shabbos Morning Greating Again” post from last week. For starters the term, “halachically permitted discourse between aliyos”, was ambiguous and possibly misleading. To set the record straight the Shulchan Aruch, Rema and Mishna Berurah are pretty clear that you should not talk between aliyos. The Aruch HaShulchan, however, says you can talk about any subject. Our Shul has recently adopted a middle position in which only Divrei Torah are permitted.

The bigger problem is that I fell into a common trap of viewing Judaism as a good lifestyle choice. I like my Shul because it works for me. Great people, a great Rav, short-enough davening, decent kiddushes. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a person enjoying his Shul and his Torah lifestyle. The ways of Torah are pleasant and we should enjoy the lifestyle it presents. The problem is when we view a better lifestyle as the goal of our Judaism.

The goal of Judaism is for us to develop a deep connection with God, and that connection will last for eternity. We create that connection thought learning Torah, doing mitzvos, davening, helping others and improving our middos. God expects a lot because each one of us can reach high levels of connection. To move towards our potential we need to make continual improvement in the above mentioned areas our major focus in life.

When our Rabbi makes a decision to strengthen our halachic observance through some policy, “Not loving it” is a poor response. We should embrace the opportunity to get closer to Hashem through the new practice. Shabbos morning and the other times and places in our life are great for one simple reason, they present us with many opportunities to forge a stronger connection with Hashem. Let’s try to take advantage of these opportunities.