Wednesday, June 15, 2016

My Purpose?

I had believed that my purpose is to find my spiritual partner and have children to teach them the ways of the Force—uh, sorry, Judaism. 

So my prayers have been somewhat petulant lately. "Hey, Eibishter? What up. 'Memba me? You know how You have in Sh'ma, 'V'shinantam l'vanecha'? So, um, could You, like, send me the means to have those vanecha? Why else was I put on this earth, complete with early childhood training—didn't You see how dope I was with my nephew's tantrum, not appeasing him and all? Could You help a girl out by sending her her zivug, like, yesterday?" 

I had been getting more and more frustrated, whining self-pityingly at the Lord for His seeming lack of comprehension. "Seriously, Dude, how are You not understanding this? I'm trying to serve You and honor You by raising a next generation in Your Name, but I'm being set up with Jar-Jars!" 

In a sulk, I listened to an endless stream of Rabbi Daniel Glatstein shiurim. In one shiur, he mentioned that a Jew is not required to become a doctor because he might save a life in the future; a Jew only has to concern herself with the situation at hand, before her.

It cannot be my purpose is restricted to that which I cannot control, I comprehended. A Jew must focus on the situation at hand. Ergo, there is purpose in how I live now

As I heard from Esther Wein, a Jew's purpose is to give honor to the Eibishter. That can be done in a multitude of ways, and according to my simple understanding, that would be doing mitzvos—both bein adam l'Makom and bein adam l'chaveiro—with as much diligence as I can. 

Honoring my parents; davening with focused kavana; watching my speech; saying brachos with more care.  

In another shiur of Esther Wein's, she quotes from Sefer Yishayahu (Perek 56). Hashem is addressing the childless and geirim of millennia ago. 
Happy is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that holdeth fast by it: that keepeth the Sabbath from profaning it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil. Neither let the alien, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying: 'The LORD will surely separate me from His people'; neither let the eunuch say: 'Behold, I am a dry tree.' For thus saith the LORD concerning the eunuchs that keep My Sabbaths, and choose the things that please Me, and hold fast by My covenant: Even unto them will I give in My house and within My walls a monument and a memorial better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting memorial, that shall not be cut off. Also the aliens, that join themselves to the LORD, to minister unto Him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants, every one that keepeth the Sabbath from profaning it, and holdeth fast by My covenant.
Shabbos. Do I really have the right perspective of Shabbos? We're told it's major, but it has been watered down to a "recharging from high tech life" sort of day. There are so many halachos I'm ignorant of, actions I refrain from doing that are actually permissible, as well as erroneously transgressing Shabbos from ignorance.
I did some browsing and came across a series on Shabbos by Rabbi Efraim Stauber. They are helping me rethink it completely. 

I have heard singles say they are frustrated because they don't seem to have a role in a couple-focused community. What if we make Shabbos our thing? Not necessarily in terms of meals—Shabbos is not about cholent—but in terms of keeping it better? Not looking at it as a day of restriction, but as a day of love between us and the great big Papa in the sky? 
I have been ignoring the much that is within my purview.    


Daniel Saunders said...

Good post! I've been holding on to that passage from Yeshayahu for years (I worry my mental health will never allow me to get married). I used to think my purpose was to get married and have children, but now I try to tell myself that my purpose is to do mitzvot and actualize my potential, whatever my situation. There was a Hasidic rebbe (can't remember which one) who was asked what the most important mitzvah is; his response was something like, "Whatever HaShem wants you to do right now."

Altie said...

Recently I started saying "I'm ready, I finally feel like I'm actually ready, so G-d, it's time. Because I decided so." I mean, who am I to decide that? But that's how I feel.

I think you may have mentioned this before, the explanation of how single people are able to fully enjoy Shabbos without a family. I like the idea of trying harder to keep mitzvos bihiddur because that is doing unconditionally.

I admire that you can write about this stuff without being bitter or upset. Because I know how hard it can be. So yasher Koach to you for always looking for the good and learning from every situation.

Princess Lea said...

DS: I didn't know about this passage until I heard the shiur a couple of months ago. It should be common knowledge.

Altie: (Sniff) Aw, gee, Altie, you made me cry. Thank you.

Daniel Saunders said...

I guess I love Tanakh study more than most Orthodox men do. I prefer it to Gemarah. Btw, the passage is also where the Yad Vashem Holocaust centre in Jerusalem gets its name from.