If you serve God in the same fashion as you did yesterday, it is regression, taught the chasidic master, the “Yehudi” (Jacob Isaac ben Asher.) “For a person is always in the aspect of becoming, and not standing.”
Much of life is about mastery of routine. We learn from the time we are young how to accomplish certain tasks without thought. The danger is that routine takes over our spiritual life as it takes over the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the route we take to work. Remaining alive inside is to be an ever-growing soul; in the life of the spirit, stagnation is death.
Spontaneity is one means of renewal, but so is effort. Not everything in religious life is easy, because ease is often the road to routine. Vary your reading, your ritual, your prayer. Learn more, reflect more, do more. All of us should remember the Yehudi’s words, that we are to become, not simply to stand.
As the poet wrote, “Up lad, when the journey’s over, there’ll be time enough to sleep.”
Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter: @RabbiWolpe. His latest book is “David: The Divided Heart” (Yale University Press).