Sunday, February 19, 2012

You: As God Intended

A little known fact – Rosh Hashanah does not commemorate the creation of the world, rather, the creation of the first human being. A world without a person who connects with God has no purpose and is not worth celebrating. We, are worth celebrating. The Talmud (Sanhedrin 37a) teaches that each individual is obligated to say, “For me, the world was created.” The spiritual power you possess is so awesome that it would be worthwhile for God to create the entire world just so you could live an elevated life in it.

Do you believe that?

If not, then you underestimate how precious your personal relationship with God is to Him. Imagine trying to explain to a toddler with whom you are close how much you enjoy when they smile at you. The child may look at you quizzically, trying to understand how you benefit when they show their budding teeth. What stirs your heart is not the physical smile; what uplifts you is the toddler’s joy and love for you, symbolized by their smile. So too, never discount any act of Divine service, or whispered prayer, especially those filled with love and longing for God; know, they are deeply cherished by Him.

Many of us do not fully realize the amazing spiritual potential we possess, waiting to ignite. We go through life only vaguely aware of the incredible closeness within our reach to our Father in Heaven. Our relationship with God is not a fringe benefit of life, it is life; it is why He created us.

Before we were born, our souls were in blissful and effortless union with God. The purpose of life on earth is to reunite with Him, through our own efforts, and thereby earn even greater bliss when we return to Heaven.

After we are born, the umbilical cord attaching us to our source of physical nourishment is cut and we must seek sustenance on our own. Similarly, upon entering this world, we must also seek spiritual sustenance on our own. God gave us the Torah to teach us how to find invigorating spiritual nourishment and how to stay away from that which weakens our connection to Him. Following the Torah enables us to achieve the deepest possible relationship with God.

Answering the shofar’s call

On Rosh Hashanah, when we hear the shofar blast we are reminded that God is our King and Creator. We ask, “Am I living my life as God intended when He created me?”

We can customize this question to give us clarity and direction in any area of our lives. For example, “Am I treating God's other children, including my spouse and kids, the way He wants them treated? Am I doing business and using my money, the way God intended when He blessed me with financial resources? Am I using my time and abilities to come closer to Him?”

When we can answer, “Yes! I am living as God intended,” we tap into the incredible power of living in sync with our Creator. The next time you are doing something in line with His will, e.g., on Shabbat, during a meal, while doing an act of kindness or learning Torah , try this: Speak to your Father in Heaven and say to Him with feeling, “I am living Your holy day, the Shabbat, as You, my Father, intended.” Or, “I am eating kosher, as You, my Father, intended.” Or, “I am using my time, as You, my Father, intended.” After doing this a few times, or perhaps right away, you will be filled with joy and a feeling of closeness to your Father. The spiritual acts you do mindfully become a conduit to feeling His loving embrace.

Every time we make His will our will we become one with God and enveloped in His embrace. With someone you deeply love, a hug once in a while does not suffice; when you hug, you never want to let go. This is why God, through His Torah, gives us guidance for every area of our lives; in His infinite love for us, God has filled life with an abundance of opportunities for closeness with Him. He wants our embrace, and for us to never let go.

It is challenging to follow the Torah as our GPS. Sometimes, we wonder if we will ever arrive at our destination or why we must take the route it sets out for us. But these challenges are there to give us the opportunity to surmount them and elevate ourselves, bringing us closer to God.

Nothing of great or lasting value is achieved without effort. What could be greater than having a relationship with God in this world? What could be more lasting than eternal bliss in the next? While the road ahead might be rocky, by following the Torah, we know where we are going and how to get there; we know that God is by our side, encouraging and strengthening us.

Rosh Hashanah is when we plead with God and ask, “Father, am I doing it right? Am I living as You intended?”

For this New Year, pick one step which will bring you closer to fulfilling God’s intention in creating you. Some possibilities: Delving into the Creator’s wisdom contained in His Torah, upgrading your observances, enhancing your prayers, or engaging in more acts of kindness. The key is to set a goal and at least once a week, do something toward achieving your goal. Although it may take time to see tangible results, the benefits accrue immediately; the closer you come to living as your Creator intended, the closer you will be to fulfilling your amazing potential.

Over time, like a musical instrument, we drift off from our intended key. Every Rosh Hashanah, by asking, “Who created me and why?” we tune back to the key of our Creator. Then in the coming year, by living the answer, we will play the wondrous melody our Composer has in mind just for us.

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