Are you bored? And how about Judaism: Do you find it monotonous?
Do you find Torah relevant to your life? Do you turn to the Torah for answers to your personal issues? When you read or hear the Torah being read do you feel it is speaking to you? Do you fulfill its commandments mechanically and by rote? Are you excited and passionate about your Judaism?
If you answered in the negative to any of these question, you are not alone. Sadly, most Jews today do not find personal relevance in Judaism. They may look to Torah for legal guidance, and may embrace it due to a cultural influences or pressure, but most do not find Judaism personally exciting, exhilarating and relevant – definitely when compared to other things in life that they turn to for stimulation.
And, if you count yourself among them, are not passionate about your spiritual heritage, what fills the vacuum? Where do you find relevance? After all, vacuums lead to some of our worst problems.
Moses addressed this dilemma over three thousand years ago in one of the most compelling of his statements. It is part of our Torah reading this week – as, indeed, it is part of our Torah reading every year just before Rosh Hashana. And the entire book of Tanya is based on this verse – which is apropos as we honor this coming new year the 200th yahrzeit of the author of this classic masterpiece, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (5573-5773/1812-1912).
But what is unclear about this verse that required an entire Tanya to be written to explain it? This sermon explains it, and the explanation couldn’t come at a better time. With Rosh Hashana 36 hours away, we need to candidly evaluate the status of our lives: What drives and excites us? Does Judaism and God have anything to do with our deepest passions and desires? What role does Torah play in our personal lives?
Above all, we must answer the most compelling question: How can we make Torah indispensable to our modern times? How can we excite our children and ourselves with what Judaism has to offer?