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To Rise Above

Karen Berg
May 28, 2023
Like 34 Comments 7 Share

This article was previously published in 2017.

Sometimes we use spirituality as an excuse for laziness. I’ve done it. You’ve done it. We’ve all done it. It’s one of the great traps of becoming a ‘spiritual person.’ For example: Meditation is a very powerful spiritual tool, but if you sit in bed all day eating ice cream and meditating on being thin, guess what? It ain’t gonna happen. …Trust me, I know.

"Then we must first learn to rise above ourselves."

As we journey forward on our spiritual path, I think many of us at one point or another make the mistake of believing a spiritual lifestyle is one that ignores the world of physicality. But if this is the case, then why are we here? A person can sit on a mountaintop chanting and praying all day, every day, their whole life long. Does this make one a spiritual person? Well I don’t know, but one thing I personally believe is that when we arrive upstairs, we will first be asked: How did you change the world for the better during your time on Earth? How did you share with your fellow humans? How did you make the lives of others better because you were a part?

If spirituality is to be defined by rising above physicality, then we must first learn to rise above ourselves. Spiritual work is about rising above selfishness, and choosing instead to be selfless. It is about rising above judgment, and choosing instead to be merciful. It is about climbing the ladder towards the best version of ourselves, elevating one rung at a time. The great gift of physicality is that it provides us with the means to do just that. Think about it. On Pesach, we use a physical meal, the Seder, as a way to touch Binah, and achieve total spiritual freedom. On Shavuot, we use the physical Torah to touch the Light of immortality. This is not only true of holidays, but of all days. We reveal the greatest supernal Light through our physical actions—each time we pick up groceries for a neighbor, volunteer at a local homeless shelter, send a kind email, or bestow a smile to a stranger.

A spiritual lifestyle is one that incorporates the spirit into every facet of our physical human lives.

This week’s portion is entitled: Beha’alotcha, which means (you guessed it!) “to rise above.” Make it your priority over the next seven days to improve yourself, to be better today than you were yesterday. And remember, in every act of kindness we bestow to another, we escalate from whoever we were just moments before!

It is in the simple acts of making this physical world a better place to be that we rise above the previous version of ourselves, and elevate the world in the process.

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