Tuesday, June 23, 2009
[the Western Wall, Jerusalem]
Personally, I believe very strongly in the importance of physical fitness. I run about twenty miles a week and I lift weights several hours a week. Being active is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
Obviously, just like physically we must work to remain fit, we must do so spiritually as well.
The place for spiritual fitness is not the gym, but the synagogue, and the means of achieving fitness is not the weight bench but the prayer book.
Whenever we pray we should meditate deeply on our prayers and concentrate with all our hearts. I find that it's very helpful to think for a moment about what I'm about to say before a blessing. Remember that all of our prayers either directly quote from the Hebrew Bible or paraphrase it. They include the profoundest thoughts. Prayer is called a “service of the heart” (Talmud Taanis 2a). Prayer is the ideal time to reflect on the all good which God does for us and to contemplate all of the miracles and wisdom of His creation. Through this we can come to greater levels of love of God, as Maimonides writes in Hilchos Yesodei haTorah 2:1, the way to love God is to think about His creations.
This also applies to all the blessings which we recite constantly all day, which should serve as constant reminders to reawaken us to love God. It's through this that we can come to true happiness.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 4:08 PM