Follow by Email

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Listen to the voice inside your head

Sukkah 40

Do you ever feel a sudden spiritual awakening?  Like you feel that you should be more religiously committed?   Believe it or not, everyone does.  The Mishnah teaches us that “each day a Heavenly voice comes out from Mt. Horeb” to awaken us from our spiritual slumber.

If it comes every day and everybody hears it, why are most people religiously lax?

Produce of the seventh year is sanctified and therefore forbidden for consumption.  Is a lulav included in this prohibition? 

The Braisa teaches that produce is sanctified, but wood is not, which would seem to suggest that the lulav branch would not fall under the rubric of the sabbatical prohibition.

Why is wood excluded from sabbatical sanctity?  Only produce that is either edible or is akin to food is affected by the sabbatical law.  How is something likened to food?  Just like with food, consumption and benefit occur simultaneously, similarly any other agricultural product whose consumption and benefit occur simultaneously is sanctified by the shemittah (sabbatical year). 

This principle would exclude wood which most of the time is utilized for cooking purposes.  Since the burning of the wood (the consumption) does not occur simultaneous to the eating (the benefit), it does not become sanctified.   The benefit of the lulav branch, however, does take place immediately with use and therefore would become sanctified in the seventh year.

While we all get these intermittent ‘wake-up calls,’ most of us respond by pushing the snooze button.  And when the alarm sounds again, in a half-asleep stupor, we pound the snooze button once more. In other words, we may wake up for a moment, but we tell ourselves that tomorrow we will act on our spiritual awakening.

‘Tomorrow I’m going to concentrate on my prayers.’  ‘Tomorrow I will get involved with the synagogue affairs.’  But as we all know, ‘tomorrow never comes.’   Tomorrow actually does come, it’s the day after today.  But by the time tomorrow rolls around, the spiritual high has worn off and we’re no longer inspired to transform ourselves.

In order to become sanctified, consumption and benefit must occur simultaneously.  If there is an interruption between cause and effect, then we lose the opportunity for sanctification. 

The secret to capitalizing on the wake-up call is to act immediately.  As soon as you hear the ‘voice,’ pick up a book of Psalms and read a chapter.  Or give a coin to charity.  Or learn some Talmud.  When you jump at the opportunity, you grant substance to the spiritual awakening and then it becomes transformative.


Throughout your life you have gotten the call ‘from above.’  But how often have you stopped to heed the call?  Act now and you will benefit from the sanctity with which your life will be imbued!