A few weeks ago, I wrote that the biggest challenge of Judaism is that a lot is expected of us. As it says in Devarim (10:12-13) we should 1) fear God, 2) walk in His ways, 3) love God, 4) serve Him with all our heart and all our soul and 5) observe all the mitzvos that he has commanded. The Ramchal makes clear in Mesillas Yesharim that this is not just a challenge, rather serving and developing a deep connection to God is in fact the purpose of our lives.
American-style Shuls with their strong chesed and friendship components give us the opportunity to advance in all five of the above components. The key to advancing is being conscious of our purpose as stated above, and using the many opportunities that come our way every single day in the form of mitzvos and interactions with people.
Let’s look at number 2, “walking in his ways”. The Ramchal writes about this: “Our Sages of blessed memory have thus summarized the idea (Avoth 2.1): “All that is praiseworthy in its doer and brings praise to him from others;” that is, all that leads to the end of true good, namely, strengthening of Torah and furthering of brotherliness”.
As an example, vorts of Shul members and their children provide a tremendous opportunity to further brotherliness, especially when they require a significant amount of time and travel. The Ramchal warns about a primary deterrent to availing ourselves of this purpose-fulfilling opportunity – that old nemesis: laziness. We don’t often think of going to an out-of-community vort as a life-purpose fulfilling event, but it is and if we become conscious of that fact – then we have a chance of overcoming the laziness deterrent, with a little help from Waze.
Torah observant Jews have the tremendous opportunity to live a constantly vibrant and purpose-filled life and our Shuls provide a tremendous vehicle to transform the challenges of serving God to the opportunities and fulfillment of that service.