Once again, the security of the land of Israel and its people has been summoned to the forefront of our minds. We are all deeply concerned and have strong opinions about who should be doing what and exactly how they should be doing it, but securing the safety of the people of Israel is an objective that is — at best — extraordinarily complex. Politics, economics, and military and defense strategics all try to maintain their balance in the intricate tango that they dance together trying to create a safe and livable environment for the people of Israel. And all against the backdrop of a frightfully hostile world in which blatant antisemitism is unabashedly rearing its grotesque head once again.
But it is not just up to the politicians and the military and defense experts to secure our safety. As they go about their jobs trying to dance the dance as best they can, there is more to this tango than meets the eye.
Judaism has a strong and fundamental appreciation for the existence of both matter and spirit. Wikipedia describes the existence of a Multiverse as hypothetical, and many think of the concept as being fictional, but as far as Judaism is concerned, it a fact.
Being members of the Homo sapiens species, we relate naturally to things that can be perceived by our physical senses. We know that which we can see, hear, feel, taste, and smell; but the reality in which we live — composed of mass and energy, coexists with countless other realities that are equally real, but entirely different in nature.
We cannot feel things that are not made of physical matter, and we can not see or hear things that contain no physical energy. It would be fair to say that the spirit doe snot actually exist — in terms of the parameters that define the physical world as we know it.
But the fact that something doesn’t physically exist, does not necessarily mean that it does not exist at all. If spirit did exist physically, if it could be measured in grams and joules, it wouldn’t be spirit. It would be matter.
Also fundamental in Jewish tradition, is the fact that as different as matter and spirit are, they are far more in touch with each other than we would imagine. Although they exist in entirely different dimensions, the material and the spiritual coexist in a very interactive equilibrium. They are all in balance together, and a small occurrence in one reality has real outcomes in the others.
Despite not relating to each other, the realities form a ‘multidimensional’ continuum, and the interface between matter and spirit means that every material act sets off a chain reaction that weaves seamlessly between the many coexistent layers of reality, and has real ramifications — both material and spiritual — as it ripples through the countless dimensions that exist in parallel to the one we know.
The User Manual
It is this relationship between matter and spirit that explains why mitzvahs are described in mystical texts as being, not only commandments — the literal Hebrew meaning of the word mitzvah, but also connections — as implied by the Aramaic meaning of the word. Both translations of the word mitzvah are accurate and precise, and they work in tandem. The mitzvahs are instructions for getting, and staying, connected.
As a thicker wire made superior material will carry more electrical current than a flimsy cheap one, a stronger and healthier connection between our body and our spirit means a more efficient flow of blessing, and the more blessed our actions are, the more successful they are likely to be.
Micro and Macro
The interface exists between each individual’s body and spirit, as it does between the global material reality and its many spiritual parallels. When we follow the instructions in the user manual that comes with the universe, we strengthen the connection between universal matter and spirit, and we increase the efficiency of the flow of global blessing, and enhance the chances of success of our collective efforts.
Every joule of energy we invest in making an effort to do the right thing stimulates it spiritual counterparts, setting off a reaction that ripples up through all the layers of reality and back, and brings positive outcomes with it.
Every act of kindness, every coin given to charity, and every time one puts on tefillin or lights shabbat candles, adds some light and warmth into the world, and brings with it the blessing that the politicians and defense experts need to make their dance graceful and effective.
Every mitzvah makes the world a better — and safer — place in a very real way, adding blessing to the valiant efforts of all those who work on the ground to protect our people, protecting them as they protect us all.