Pirkei Avot 4:10 teaches the words of Rabbi Meir: “Engage but little in business, and busy yourself with the Torah. Be of humble spirit before all men. If you have neglected the Torah, you shall have many who bring you to neglect it, but if you have labored at the study of Torah, there is much reward to give unto you.”
As we begin this Jewish year anew, I am determined to align myself with Rabbi Meir’s teaching. The interpretation I will use for my own soul’s intention, or kavanah, is, however, a little different from Rabbi Meir’s teaching.
“I’m aiming for a little less talk and a little more action.”
—Debbi K. Levy
Do these words sound familiar? Is an old song from the seventies ringing in your ears? Hopefully, these words will be easy to access and easy to remember as the months of 5782 whiz by us.
I’d like to invite you to join me on this action-oriented Torah engagement TOP 10 LIST to get us moving in the right direction. You remember Top 10 lists from a while back on late-night television, don’t you? Here goes…
10. Start with the Torah scroll itself. Cultivate curiosity about our weekly parasha. Can you identify a sacred message or detail that you could apply to your own life? Hint: The TJP offers a weekly d’var Torah to get you started.
9. Upon awakening, don’t reach for your cellphone. Instead, lean into Judaism’s practice of noticing morning miracles. Are you breathing deeply? Are you able to get out of bed and stand upright before Adonai?
8. Find something brand-new to do or say or even notice, and recite the Shehecheyanu prayer in awareness and celebration. You’ll never let life’s important moments go by uneventfully again once you begin this practice.
7. What is your Hebrew name? Can you write it? Can you talk to yourself using your Hebrew name?
6. The Hebrew word chesed means kindness. Find a moment of intentional chesed in your day. Meet the eyes of a stranger with a smile that changes the tempo of the day for both of you.
5. Light your Shabbos candles. These small flames can elevate your soul in a way that is indescribable and holy.
4. Have you ever tried to make a challah? During our recent lockdown, so many of us tried our hand at making homemade bread. A challah bread awakens something deep in our bodies and hearts.
3. As the Torah proclaims, “Justice, justice, shall you pursue.” This idea is paramount to the Jewish people and our sacred responsibility in the world we have been given. How can you be a part of this directive in your community and beyond?
2. Be a part of a minyan. Jewish people are encouraged to gather in prayer. Today you can be a part of a prayer service on Zoom, outdoors or even in person. Bring yourself to any Jewish community where you might feel magnetized. Your presence is a gift to the worshippers.
1. Search for the good within and around you. Some days, that good may not be as apparent. Express the gratitude you can name silently, or shout it to the heavens. God is waiting for our conversations.
Debbi K. Levy is an emerging Priestess on her way to smicha (ordination) with the Kohenet Institute.