by Mel Alexenberg, The Times of Israel, August 27, 2015
Learn about the centrality of down-to-earth spirituality in Judaism in a creative exploration of this week's Torah portion Ki Teitzei in the excerpt below from my book Photograph God: Creating a Spiritual Blog of Your Life http://photographgod.com.
The book describes the “Torah Tweets” blogart project that my wife Miriam and I created to celebrate our 52nd year of marriage. During each of the 52 weeks of our 52nd year, we posted six photographs reflecting our life together with a text of tweets that relates the weekly Torah reading to our lives.
Readers of this Times of Israel blog are invited to create a spiritual blog of their lives.
See all six photographs of shook shopping and Torah tweets for Ki Teitzei at http://bibleblogyourlife.blogspot.co.il/2014/01/deuteronomy-6-shook-shopping.html
Ki Teitzei/When you will go out (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19)
For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp. (Deuteronomy 23:15)
Seeing God walking in the midst of our daily life is the overriding theme of this entire Torah Tweets blogart project.
Mel photographed our daughter Iyrit shopping for Shabbat in the lively Petah Tikva SHOOK (marketplace).
Leading rabbis of the 20th century and a highly acclaimed writer emphasize the centrality of down-to-earth spirituality in Judaism.
Talmudic scholar Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik in his book Halakhic Man teaches that Judaism does not direct its gaze upward but downward:
“It does not aspire to a heavenly transcendence, nor does it seek to soar upon the wings of some abstract, mysterious spirituality. It fixes its gaze upon concrete, empirical reality permeating every nook and cranny of life. THE SHOOK, the street, the factory, the house, the mall, the banquet hall, all constitute the backdrop of religious life.”
The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem M. Schneerson, teaches that it is not enough for the Jew to rest content with his own spiritual ascent:
“He must strive to draw spirituality down into the world and into every part of it from the world of his work to his social life. His work and social life should not only not distract him from his pursuit of G-d, but they must become a full part of it.”
American writer E. L. Doctorow in his novel City of God expresses the same thoughts poetically:
“If there is a religious agency in our lives, it has to appear in the manner of our times. Not from on high, but a revelation that hides itself in our culture. It will be ground-level, on the street, it'll be coming down the avenue in the traffic, hard to tell apart from anything else.”
Zionist Rabbi Abraham Y. Kook sees individual actions combine as a symphony of Jews living together as a sovereign nation in their own land:
“The first message that Moses chose to teach the Jewish people as they were about to enter the Land of Israel was to fuse heaven to earth. To enable the mundane to rise up and touch the Divine, the spiritual to vitalize the physical, not only as individuals but as a nation.”