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Friday, 7 February 2014

Feelgood Religion

Sukkah 4

Why is religion so strict?  Shouldn’t spirituality make me feel good?

The sukkah must not be taller than twenty amos (approx. 30’).  What if you were to pour a sizeable amount of dirt onto the floor of the sukkah, thereby raising the floor level and effectively reducing the distance between the floor and the ceiling (schach) to less than twenty amos?  The Gemara says that would validate the sukkah. 

What if instead you padded the floor with cushions and blankets to reduce the distance to the requisite height?  That, says the Gemara, would not work.  Why not?

Our mission in this world is to connect heaven and earth.  Every time we do a mitzvah, we elevate this physical world and make it more spiritual.  As a practical visible example, I can take a piece of cowhide and fashion a Torah scroll from it. 

Connecting this physical world with the spiritual worlds above is not a simple task and we toil a lifetime to achieve this sacred task.  We face many challenges, mitzvos are not a walk in the park – our job is to overcome those challenges and achieve success in our Divine mission. 

Sadly, there are some who believe that religion and spirituality are all about comfort.  They take cushions and blankets and pad the surface in an effort to reach spirituality.  But the Talmud warns us that this doesn’t work.  Spiritual aspiration and transformation is an arduous task that requires self-sacrifice and dedication. 

It’s not about being comfortable.  It’s about getting one’s hands and feet dirty – being prepared to work hard to break free of the constraints of this physical world in order to make this world a home for G-d.  

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