Issue 53 | Parshat Bechukotai | Mechanical Judaism



And its Devastating Effects

Are you a mechanical Jew? Fulfilling all the mitzvot, following all the rituals and traditions to the tee, yet all done by rote, like a robot following orders?

One of the great tragedies of our time, bemoaned by many, is growing up in a home and environment where Judaism was practiced robotically, lacking any soul or passion. How many Jews no longer attend Synagogue today because of the hollow and empty experiences they encountered in these houses of worship?

Indeed, G-d Himself despises and scorns upon “mechanical” religiosity: “mitzvot anoshim melumodoh,” lip service and by rote tradition taught by men, people who turn the “potter” into the “clay.”

And what are the consequences of static and mechanical observance? What vacuum does it leave within a persons heart and soul, and what lurks beneath the surface of someone who is only going through the motions? Can “lifeless” rituals survive?

In this week’s insight, the Baal Shem Tov shows us how one single word in the opening verse of this week’s Torah portion – “go” – teaches us a critical lesson in the need and requirement to infuse our observance of Torah and mitzvot with vitality and passion. And only by doing so – by bringing Judaism alive – can we be assured to pre-empt and prevent the dangers of stagnation.

This lesson has far reaching implications in addressing the root of many of today’s social maladies: The void created by a passionless life.


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