Rituals: Not we, but you
Yesterday, I had the distinct pleasure to participate in some Batei Din (plural for Beit Din), which is the Hebrew word for Rabbinic Court.
A Beit Din includes a minimum of three knowledgable Jews on a particular halakhic (loosely defined as Jewish law, a blog post for another day) subject. Most often, in the modern world, a Beit Din is made up of rabbis. A court will be called for a variety of circumstances, a common one is for conversion.
In this particular morning, these conversion candidates spoke of their experiences, challenges, and growth. They each described the journey they have been on and will be continuing after they become “officially” Jewish. (This isn’t a post about conversion.)
A few of them spoke of rituals they had taken on, an important part of being Jewish. Judaism is a Tradition of doing and action more than it is of a belief. Some took on the mindful eating of kashrut (being kosher), some took on lighting Shabbat candles, some took on attending services, and some took on blessings around food.
The question that I asked, in my capacity on this court was:
Why do this ritual? Not, why do WE do this ritual, but why do YOU?
This is an important question that we often overlook.
Many of us take our Jewish life for granted.
One answer I heard yesterday was about lighting the Shabbat candles, which I think is worth repeating. When asked the question above, she responded:
“I light Shabbat candles every Friday night because I need to make a separation at the end of the week. It helps me bring peace into my life.”
When was the last time you were that intentional about something in your life? I’m going to guess not recently. That’s not a judgement, that’s part of what happens to us. We get complacent and the abnormal eventually becomes the normal. The challenge of our lives is recognizing when it happens and realigning ourselves.
Being intentional and mindful is important to living, what I’d argue, a meaningful life. I’m not telling you what to be mindful about, but the process is significant.
By paying attention and doing what we want with intention shifts how we experience life. It is not because others have dictated the reason for that act, but because we craft its meaning for ourselves.
That is the lesson I learned yesterday. It is not about what we do, which has value, but the meaning YOU put into the actions that make up your day, week, and month.
What do you do with intention?