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Paying More Attention to God

08/15/2019 01:40:12 PM

Aug15

Sleep & Wellbeing: 32%. Work Meetings: 15%. Email: 10%. Eating: 8%. Miscellaneous Work: 8%. Downtime and Housework: 8%. Prayer: 5%. Learning: 5%. Writing Shabbat Shalom Article: 2%. Relaxing with Family: 2%. Gardening: 2%. Commuting: 2%. Math for this Article: 1%.

This is approximately how my time was allocated this past Wednesday. From the moment I woke up, my mind began to populate thoughts of things I needed to start doing; iron a shirt, get to minyan on time, finish weeding the garden before it gets oppressively hot, get the kiddo up and ready for school, go through my emails, meet with B’nai Mitzvah students. There is always something that needs to get done whether for work, our friends and families, or ourselves. Dinner will need to be planned, clothing will need to be washed, kids will need to be driven, and Shabbat Shalom articles will need to be written. And if I take a step back, I can see how much time I in truth dedicated to each of these projects. But am I happy with this breakdown?

In Parshat V’etchanan, Moses recalls the Ten Commandments that were given at Mount Sinai back in the Book of Exodus. The Second Commandment, according to Jewish tradition, prohibits us from having any other God besides Adonai. The Torah then goes on to prohibit making images and likenesses of things from the heaven, sea, or earth. The reason is explained as follows: “For I Adonai your God is an impassioned God, visiting the guilt of parents upon the children, upon the third and fourth generations” (Deuteronomy 5:9). And while the rewards for obedience are greater (to the thousandths generation), it is clear that worshipping idols is pretty severe. The language of an impassioned God, an El Kana, is sometimes translated as a jealous God; a god who is worked up when we fail to live up to the Divine Will.

Some might think this commandment is a “freebie” as monotheism is so widespread and it is rare to encounter true idol worship. However, I wonder if there is a way to extend this commandment to include not only physical representations of the natural and supernatural world, but also the things that distract us from our worship of God and fulfilling the Divine Will. Perhaps this Commandment is a way of reminding us that it is easy to get caught up in our physical environments that we deviate from our alignment with God’s expectations. And looking at the breakdown of my Wednesday, I can already see some moments I could have organized differently to increase time focused on fulfilling my religious virtues. Luckily, however, I have a chance to make up for any deficits, and I invite you this Shabbat to join me in spending a little more time living righteously and according to the Divine Imperative.

Sat, October 31 2020 13 Cheshvan 5781