The physical life of a Jew is a spiritual thing – Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov founder of chassidism, 1698-1760
via Daily Torah Study.
This quote from Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov expresses one of the main components of Judaism that drew me to it. When a Jew lives out the Torah his physical actions are a spiritual thing.
The world’s religions try to separate the physical and spiritual, but G~d made all things and saw that they were good. Physical things are not bad, they are neutral. It is what is done with them that give them their meaning. When a Jew eats a kosher meal the act of eating is transformed from a mundane part of survival to a spiritual act which focuses one’s entire life (for without food we die) on G~d!
It is said in Deuteronomy 30:11–14,
Surely, this Instruction [Torah] which I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, Who among us can go up to the heavens and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, Who among us can cross to the other side of the sea and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it? No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it. (JPS)
The Torah is an intrinsic part of a Jew’s life. It infuses the Jewish life with spirituality in every nook and cranny of existence. It is, in a sense, that the Jew already dwells with G~d, and visa/versa. When the Torah is embraced and taken in, even in the briefest of moments in time when a mitzvah is performed, that moment is transformed into an act of godliness.
It is amazing to me, and hard to express, that life, simply living, can be dedicated to G~d’s service. Perhaps this is why so many Jews take it for granted and don’t do what we ought… because it’s what our life is. Because a life dedicated to G~d is what we’re supposed to do, and sense it is who we are, we pick it up and put it down as we please.
Fascinating thoughts to me that would be fun to spend more time exploring…