The Gates of Spirituality Open

What is our capacity to express connection and interest in the unknowable and the unseen? As we draw closer to Yom Kippur, can we, even for a moment, articulate personal, coherent beliefs about the meaning of the universe — and recognize where we fit within the larger scheme — beliefs that give us comfort and can serve as a foundation for our everyday conduct?

Three gates the Creator has opened to us so that we may enter into the domain of spirituality, ethical conduct, and the laws divine – that guide us in our works and daily life to health of body and mind and soul. The first is the lofty portal of pure Reason, with all obstructing errors cleared away; the second is the Book of Torah, revealed to Moses the prophet; the third is built up of traditions.
-Bahya ben Yosef ibn Pakuda, “Gates of Knowledge,” Duties of the Heart

Are we able to quietly claim the concept of spirituality for ourselves, without giving it over to pop-psychology? Can we cultivate an inner meaning that fortifies us, regardless of what we encounter in the world?

How do our body and mind come to rest? What brings us comfort? Can cultivating a prayer life and a discipline of putting ourselves into a larger context in this world, bring us greater health? What do we believe in? How is spirituality linked to our physical and emotional wellness? When have you been captivated by something — that literally takes your breath away — how has that experience changed your life?

Find a moment for reflection today, to concentrate on your breath, body movement, or your chant. As you think about the purpose of your life or the state of the world, compose a prayer that you can include in your prayers for Yom Kippur. See if you can limit your speech today to what is only absolutely necessary. Take a longer walk today, articulating your thoughts in a stream of consciousness, as you walk (hitbodedut). Take a few minutes to sit quietly in our sanctuary. Reflect on why you are going to fast on Yom Kippur. With a friend, study something from our tradition — perhaps a prayer from our High Holyday machzor — that in dialogue together, opens up questions of meaning and a deeper bond. Allow yourself a chance to be positively surprised. Ask God a question — and be open to a response.