Today, I served in a holy temple.
I was Godly.
I drew close to the Creator of the world by doing holy tasks.
It was with little fanfare. Few saw other than my immediate family.
But it was Godly, nonetheless.
What was this Godly work that I did?
I took care of my children, took them to the doctor, was a peacemaker when they fought, kept my patience when they tried pushing my buttons, read them stories, and taught them valuable lessons.
I made a delicious and healthy supper for my family. (Chinese food, in case you were wondering.)
Yes, Godly work.
Godly? I hear you asking. How exactly is that Godly? Going to synagogue is Godly. Putting on Talis and Tefillin, that’s Godly. But being a housewife and a mother? How exactly is that Godly? How is that spiritual work? And what do you mean, “served in a holy temple?”
In Parshas Truma, God says to Moshe and the Jewish people- “Vi’asu li mikdash vishachani bisocham” “Make me a temple and I will dwell in them”. In the Gemara, (Megilah 29a) it is brought down that although there was only one actual temple they were building, the reason why it says God will dwell in them (plural) is because there are many different temple-like places- synagogues, study halls, and homes are all called a “mikdash me’at”, a mini temple, and God dwells in each of those places.
This concept, the one of your home being a mikdash me’at, a mini temple, is what makes my “house-wifing” be temple service and therefore spiritual.
Two weeks of the year, the Cohanim, the priests, would go to the Beit Hamikdash and do their divine service.
You know what it included?
Laundering all the clothing that the Cohanim wore.
Baking the lechem hapanim, the “face bread” to go on the shulchan, the specially designed table in the Beit Hamikdash.
It was all physical, manual labor. And it was holy, holy work.
Because it was what was needed to be done for the Beit Hamikdash to function.
And those tasks that the Kohanim had are not much different than the average housewife does every day.
And each time we do those things, we’re taking care of our mikdash me’at. We’re doing Divine service in that we’re getting the physical work done that is spiritual in nature because it allows the home to run smoothly.
The housework commonly disdained is actually true Divine service. We women are the Kohanim of our own mini temples.
Another aspect of the Godly work I did today:
It is brought down in many sources that the way we connect to God is by being Godly. What does being Godly mean? It means imitating God in all His ways. An example given: “Mah hu rachum, af ata rachum.” Just like He is compassionate, you too be compassionate.
There are 13 character traits of God, among them, being compassionate, giving, patient, truthful/reliable, and forgiving. Anyone who’s a mom can attest that there is much character work needed in being a parent, and that these specific traits are hard but important as a parent.
By working on my compassion, patience, truthfulness, reliability and forgiveness today when dealing with my kids, I was imitating God, and doing Godly work.
Another aspect of imitating God-
God is, as we say in bentching (the Grace after meals), “Zan es ha’olam kulo bituvu bichen bichesed uverachamim.” “Who provides food for the entire world in His goodness, with grace, kindness, and mercy”.
By preparing food for my family to eat, I am imitating God, who, too, provides food for His creations.
By teaching my children Torah, by raising them as good Jewish children, I am raising my children to be servants of God, a very Godly task indeed.
Life as a Jewish women is filled with so many opportunities for spiritual growth.
And to actually feel spiritual? When you’re doing these things, talk out loud to God, tell Him “I’m doing this to be Godly. I’m doing this task as the Kohain in my mikdash mi’at. I’m working on myself to be a more compassionate person, because I want to be like you, God.”
And all of a sudden, the mundane became a spiritual endeavor.
There is so much spiritual potential in our lives as Jewish women. Why not harness it?