More on More Mitzvah Mileage

In yesterday’s post, we pointed out that for mitzvos to have their intended effect of getting closer to Hashem, we need to perform them with mindfulness, which can include attention, focus and kavannah. Fellow spiritual growth traveler, Neil Harris, emailed us and pointed out that mindfulness is currently a very popular concept in the secular world.

In a recent post on Brevedy, titled Pay Attention to this Post, David Linn highlights a recent secular book named Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life by Winifred Gallagher. Gallagher states what we have known in the Torah world for a while, specifically, that we have the ability to control what we pay attention to and focusing on the good will expand our world and make us healthier and happier. I want to note that Brevedy, which is focused on growth in the physical, emotional and intellectual dimensions has gone to a daily posting schedule.

Getting back to spiritual growth and more mitzvah mileage, we suggested a simple starting point of saying one brocha a day with more focus and mindfulness and we gave a simple translation of the Shehakol blessing which we say over many foods including water and coffee.

R’ Micha Berger, mentioned in the comments to that post, that he has been focusing on his Shehakol over his first cup of coffee for a while and provided us with the translation he uses when he says the brocha. Micha has a great explanation of the meaning of a beracha in his post on his site called “What is a Berakhah”.

2 comments on “More on More Mitzvah Mileage

  1. R’ Micha, I’m with you all the way.

    I have two projects (three, if you count the Beyond BT pivot) in process that are focused on creating the culture of growth.

  2. I would think that in order to really get growth out of mitzvos, one needs to view life as a growth process. Not just as a truism; everyone knows it in the abstract. But people need some sense of what a “grown” Jew looks like — whether they view that in terms of deveiques (cleaving to G-d), sheleimus (wholeness), some thing else, some combination. But how do you climb a ladder without knowing which building you want to lean that ladder against? We need some goals in mind, and then we can say which steps to get closer to it toward those goals before next Rosh haShanah, which can help us form personal goals for the month, week and even to sit down at night or in the early morning and set spiritual goals for ourselves for the coming day!

    I participate in a vaad where we meet every other week to focus on such goals. So within that vaad structure, I’m committed to spend today to look for things I’ve received from other people or from the Creator that go beyond expectation. And to consider that whole line between expected good and happy surprises. We usually place that line incorrectly to begin with. And the vaad should provide a support structure so that we’re not going it alone. (To be honest, our vaad is going through a hard time right now; but we’re working on reinvigoration. But that’s why I wrote “should”.)

    On my between-me-and-the-Omnipresent goal sheet, I’m working on having kavanah for particular tiny pieces of davening. The list changes over time. I hope by the end of the year to get more used to speaking to the A-lmighty in a less formal manner than the siddur, but it still feels too fake to me. Meanwhile, I’m still jealous of Fiddler on the Roof’s Tevya.

    Getting back to my original intended point… We need to take the whole idea seriously enough to change how we relate to Judaism. I learn a knew halakhah in tzitzis? My first question should be to see how this new law can be used as a tool to grow.

    Similarly, we need real practices to gve that work struture. Halakhah gives us tools, but it seems we need to go beyond halakhah to keep us using those tools for what Hashem gave them.

    And we need a peer group. Which is why I mentioned the vaad. We need a culture of growth. A shul with growth-oriented derashos or a nice quiet davening is great. One that also gives someone ideas like the previous post, and offers help and push to actually follow through on these ideas would be on a whole different plane.

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