There’s something about a new year, fresh chances, that is inherently inspiring.
Like that student in her starched uniform shirt on the very first day of school, we feel a sense of conviction to do it right this time. That’s not to say that we’ve been doing it all wrong, of course, but you know, the newness of it all makes us stop and wonder, “How can I do it better?”
As Yidden, we are striving beings. We’re wired toward growth, toward reaching greater heights. But here’s the caveat: We need to do ours to tap into that strength. Spirituality is something we need to cultivate; it’s our avodah. And one way to do so is to make a conscious effort to live a more intentional Yiddishkeit.
When we’re born into a lifestyle (or we’ve been living it for many years), no matter how exalted and cherished it may be, our work is cut out for us. There’s no doubt that we’ll enter adulthood doing, doing, doing so much by rote. We’ll know the Shabbos routine in our dreams, rattle off the names of the Hebrew months and the Yamim Tovim they herald, and even quote some esoteric meaning behind the celebration for each of them. But if we want to make it truly meaningful, we’ll have to do our share in making this legacy ours. It’s only when we find a way to personally connect to the spiritual essence of our lifestyle that we can live it with intention. And it’s then that we can pass it on further, transmitting gems with love and awe.
I often share a revelation I experienced during one of Rebbetzin Sima Spetner’s parenting classes. Speaking on the topic of tznius, she said to us, “If you want your daughters to love tznius, you need to love it first.” That statement left me reeling. It spurred a lot of questions for me, questions I needed to answer with brutal honesty. Did I love tznius? Did I appreciate the beauty of leading a modest lifestyle? Of wearing this kind of garb and that kind of wig? And if I didn’t, I needed to get working, and fast. Because not only did I want my daughters to embrace this special mitzvah, but I wanted to love every part of Yiddishkeit too. I wanted to love my life, every aspect of it.
“Eitz chaim hi lamachazikim bah vesomcheha me’ushar, The Torah is a tree of life to those who grasp it, and those who draw near it are fortunate” (Mishlei 3:18). Yiddishkeit is multi-faceted, brilliantly framing our lives with boundaries and offering untold opportunities for joy and connection. As adult women, it is our privilege and responsibility to explore its beauty, to find a way that it speaks to our soul. As with every endeavor that’s of value to us—be it developing a talent, pursuing a career, or building a brand—our connection to Yiddishkeit necessitates investment on our part. Whether through taking classes, learning with a partner, or finding a means through which we quench the thirst of our neshamah, at the start of a year is a great time to make that commitment. And if we find that we face too much inner resistance in our quest toward a more meaningful Yiddishkeit, we may want to explore the whys. Too often, negative associations with concepts and qualities that are actually meant to spark joy and connection leave us feeling to the contrary. These emotions have nothing to do with Torah per se and everything to do with unpleasant emotional experiences; differentiating between the two is part and parcel of facilitating emotional and spiritual health.
As frum Yidden, we have the secret to leading a most quality, content life in our own backyard. Delineated by a Torah that was authored by the One who created us and our psyche, authentic Judaism offers all the recipes to wholesome living. The moral compass for all of society, the Torah teaches us what it means to feel fulfilled, what it means to love and to feel loved. It offers a breathtaking melding of spiritual, physical, and emotional pleasure that fills our every human need. This year, may we merit living the rich, fulfilling, joyous life that our loving Father wants for us.
Whether you’re a visual or audio learner, prefer insights that appeal to your emotions or philosophical, thought-provoking content, there’s a plethora of learning materials available at your disposal to enhance your connection to Yiddishkeit. Here’s a list of books that have been highly recommended:
* Emunah With Love and Chicken Soup, purchase here.
Like a steaming bowl of chicken soup, this book will satisfy, comfort and heal you.
* Worldmask, purchase here.
Dealing with perplexing philosophical paradoxes, this work is sure to exhilarate and enlighten.
If you’d like to add the name of a book or shiur that helped you lead a more meaningful frum life, please share in the comments below.