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The Secret of a Twice-a-year Jew

by Rabbi Chaim Cunin


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There is a very good reason most Jews only go to Temple twice a year. We go to a holy place, we go during a holy day, but we don’t necessarily experience holiness. And if we don’t find G-d and spirituality at this place and at these times, when are we supposed to? Either our search for spirituality is an impossible one, or we’re looking in the wrong place.

There’s a story about a man desperately searching under a streetlamp. A passerby asks, “What are you looking for?" “I lost my wallet," he answers. “Where did you last see it?" the passerby questions. “Up the block," he says. “So why aren’t you looking up the block?" asks the mystified passerby. “There you can’t see anything, it’s too dark. So I came here to search under the streetlight."

The Rebbe of Kotzk asked, “Where is G-d?" His answer, “Wherever He is let in." If we let G-d into our day-to-day activities, G-d and holiness become a part of our everyday life.

Where is G-d? Wherever He is let in
God doesn’t just live in a synagogue. He is everywhere and everything, but we need to open our perceptions to Him. Jewish rituals were never meant to be hollow actions. They are meant to be hallowed actions. They are supposed to be a key. G-d knows where we are. We have to find Him! We can have a spiritual experience at any time, and G-d is found everywhere.

We hear holiness when we listen to the little voice inside us, we taste holiness when we say a blessing before we eat, we take holiness with us when we kiss the Mezuzah on our way out. We sanctify time by turning Saturday into Shabbat. We sanctify place and person by rituals such as Sukkah and Mikvah.

Once we begin to see G-d in what we do, say, think and feel, we discover that spirituality is not something that just happens, but something that we must continuously strive for.

How do we strive for it? By our everyday actions. Where is G-d? Wherever He is let in. 

Today, we find our people in the most difficult and trying times. Israel is constantly in danger from within by terror, and from without by those who criticize everything Israel does or doesn’t do. Constantly we are reminded that we are “a nation that dwells alone," as we see the nations of the world again either aiding our enemies or sitting by passively.

You can’t chase away darkness with a broom. But with a light? Even a little one will do the trick. A little charity, little candles on Friday night, a little “good morning" to someone—it’s not that little. A Mitzvah is a connection (“tzavsa") from you to all the Jewish people all over the world. Israel was not, is not, and will never be protected by F-16’s, sophisticated missile defenses or powerful allies. The land and people are guarded by people connected to and supporting our worldwide Jewish community—a community without bounds, protected by our Father in Heaven.


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Mitzvot » Prayer » Synagogue
Holidays » Yom Kippur » About
Holidays » Rosh Hashanah » About

(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
The temporary structure in which we are required to dwell for the duration of the holiday of Sukkot. The Sukkah must have at least three walls and its roof consists of unsecured branches, twigs or wooden slats.
A ritual bath where one immerses to become spiritually pure. After her menstrual cycle, a woman must immerse in the Mikvah before resuming marital relations.
A rolled up scroll containing certain verses from the Torah which is affixed to the right-hand doorpost of doorways in a Jewish home.
A Chassidic master. A saintly person who inspires followers to increase their spiritual awareness.
1. Usually a reference to the Holy Temple which was/will be situated in Jerusalem. 1st Temple was built in 825 BCE and was destroyed in 423 BCE. The 2nd Temple was built in 350 BCE and was destroyed in 70 CE. The 3rd Temple will be built by the Messiah. 2. A synagogue.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.