Now is the time to learn how to create your own blog to reveal your everyday activities as spiritual events and mundane tasks as extraordinary occasions.
It is the season leading up to the rewinding of the Torah scroll when we begin to read it from “In the beginning” (Genesis 1:1). It is time to begin creating a spiritual blog of your life. This holiday season starts with Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Hebrew New Year 5777, and ends with the joyous holiday of Simhat Torah when we begin the annual cycle of reading the Torah scroll. My wife Miriam and I were married on the night when Simhat Torah ended. After having celebrated the Jewish tradition of dancing on Simhat Torah, our wedding guests continued dancing into the night.
SMARTPHONES, SOCIAL MEDIA AND SPIRITUALITY
To celebrate our 52nd year of marriage we created the “Torah Tweets” blogart project http://bibleblogyourlife.blogspot.com to link our story to the biblical narrative. During each of the 52 weeks of our 52nd year, we posted digital photographs reflecting our life together with tweet texts relating the weekly Torah reading to our lives. We disseminated our weekly blog posts worldwide through the blogosphere and twitterverse.
The great interest of people of all faiths in our blogart project encouraged me to write an instruction manual to teach others how to Bible blog their lives. It was published as the book Photograph God: Creating a Spiritual Blog of Your Life http://photographgod.com. It explains how to create a personal blog that links smartphone photography and social media to spirituality.
A BLOG AS A DIGITAL AGE SCROLL
The chronological blog form invites the creation of a narrative for telling your story. A blog is a web log, an Internet journal through which you can document the flow of your life’s thoughts, activities, and plans. It connects your past and present to your future through a stream of images and words
Seeing your life as a flowing narrative can reveal spiritually significant trends. You can recognize extraordinary meanings of events in your life when you join them together in a narrative sequence. You can discern distinctive patterns flowing through your life by relating your story as a narrative sequence of photographs in dialogue with creative texts. The photographs in your blog are most powerful when they reveal the spectrum of divine light as they tell your story in relation to biblical stories.
The blog form is an ideal artistic and literary structure for spiritual blogging. As a form viewed by scrolling vertically it relates to a Torah scroll read by scrolling horizontally. The blog provides a user-friendly digital structure for recording your experiences and weaving them together into coherent patterns. Blogs as social media open opportunities for sharing your stories with others worldwide.
Below is the “Torah Tweets” blog post for the sixth portion of the book Deuteronomy. It is read in synagogues on Shabbat, September 17th. There are four more Torah portions of Deuteronomy that will be read each week until Torah scrolls worldwide are rewound to Genesis for the annual cycle begin anew.
SHOOK, SUPERMARKET AND SPIRITUALITY
Ki Teitzei/When you will go out (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19)
“For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp.” (Deuteronomy 23:15)
Seeing God walking in the midst of our daily life is the overriding theme the “Torah Tweets” blogart project.
We photographed our daughter Iyrit shopping for Shabbat in the lively Petah Tikva shook (marketplace).
We present below quotations from three prominent rabbis and an American novelist that emphasize the centrality of down-to-earth spirituality in Judaism.
Talmudic scholar Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik in his book Halakhic Man teaches that Judaism does not direct its gaze upward but downward:
“It does not aspire to a heavenly transcendence, nor does it seek to soar upon the wings of some abstract, mysterious spirituality. It fixes its gaze upon concrete, empirical reality permeating every nook and cranny of life. The shook, the street, the factory, the house, the mall, the banquet hall, all constitute the backdrop of religious life.”
The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem M. Schneerson, teaches that it is not enough for the Jew to rest content with his own spiritual ascent:
“He must strive to draw spirituality down into the world and into every part of it from the world of his work to his social life. His work and social life should not only not distract him from his pursuit of G-d, but they must become a full part of it.”
Rabbi Abraham Y. Kook sees individual actions combining to create a spiritual symphony of a sovereign nation in their homeland:
“The first message that Moses chose to teach the Jewish people as they were about to enter the Land of Israel was to fuse heaven to earth. To enable the mundane to rise up and touch the Divine, the spiritual to vitalize the physical, not only as individuals but as a nation.”
American writer E. L. Doctorow in his novel City of God expresses the same thoughts poetically:
“If there is a religious agency in our lives, it has to appear in the manner of our times. Not from on high, but a revelation that hides itself in our culture. It will be ground-level, on the street, it’ll be coming down the avenue in the traffic, hard to tell apart from anything else.”