A taste for the spiritual

If the energy stored up in the sun can reach a blade of grass, cannot the spirit of God reach into the human mind?  Today there is more sunlight than on any other day, with the arrival of the Summer Solstice.   It feels like a worthy time to esteem spiritual energy.

Three aspects of nature command our attention, writes Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.  Its power.  Its loveliness.  And its grandeur.  Power we exploit.  Loveliness we enjoy.  Grandeur fills us with wonder.

These days we seem more familiar with power and beauty.  Our muscle-memory for exploitation and enjoyment is reliably strong.  But what of our sense of wonder?

Most of us are not at our best when we’re exhausted, confused, or in pain.  The spirit can replenish us when we feel rundown.  It can also ventilate a suffocating obsession with power.  Spiritual energy can help make us more resilient and resourceful, less alone and afraid.  It can help us make sounder decisions.

“Bread and power alone will not save humanity” writes Heschel.  This week’s prophetic passage concurs. “Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit says the Lord” (Zech 4:6).  While power can be infectious, wonder is influential.

In this week’s portion of Torah Moses’ spirit is restored when he perceives his expanding influence.  When Joshua warns about excess, Moses affirms “Would that all people were prophets such that God’s spirit animated their lives” (Num 11: 29).  Moses’ question of today’s generation might be, ’Would that all people activated their taste for the spiritual?’

May mistaken belief in self-sufficiency be healed by growing trust with nature and human nature as we whet our palates for the spiritual this summer.

About the Author
Rabbi William Hamilton has served as rabbi (mara d'atra) of Kehillath Israel in Brookline, MA since 1995.
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