How do we build a Jewish life that is spiritually deep and reflects our rich tradition, without having to deny our place in the modern western society in which we find ourselves? This is an important question I took home from last night's Torah on Tap discussion. It a question that cannot be answered simply from an intellectual or philosophical perspective—but one which must be answeredthrough the act of living itself. My next few blog posts will offer some possibilities, and I encourage comments and offerings of your own to add to this discussion.
For this post, I'd like to focus on the concept of Kavanah, which is a Hebrew word rich in meaning, usually translated asIntention. The practice of formulating personal kavanot/intentions before we engage in our daily activities is one way to begin breaking ourselves out of a life build out of habits and impulses, and moves us to living with greater consciousness and awareness. It draws us into the holiness of each moment, and the holiness that can dwell within each action. Our tradition teaches us that everything we do is an opportunity for inner and outer transformation. Eating can be holy, interpersonal interaction can be holy, making a living can be holy. Torah is not a document to be read, it is an ideal to be lived out in the real world, through everyday actions. Recognizing this, and consciously choosing to identify the holiness of the moment through kavanot/intentions can be a meaningful practice.