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Look inside instead of online

Online hissing and hollering aren’t good for you. Your spirit is more intrigued by melodies that hum deep inside you. A mental journey can find you gliding toward inner light that reflects divine light.

Preparation for Passover has begun. Special prophetic passages from Ezekiel arrive this week and next week to help us refurnish our inner lives. Ezekiel introduces us to the notion of a remade heart, a newborn spirit (lev chadah, ru-ach chadasha). What’s fascinating is the four-step program that gets us there. It’s not merely internal. Indeed, it is impressively activating.

Ezekiel’s four-step formula tweaks the original four-steps (bring forth, save, redeem, and take) of God’s redemption of the Children of Israel from Egypt. The prophet asserts: “And I will take you from the nations (v’lakach’ti), and gather you from among the countries (v’kibbatz’ti), and I will bring you back to your own land (v’haivai’ti) And I will sprinkle purifying waters to purify you (v’zarak’ti) (Ez. 36:24-25). If it even took God four steps to liberate the slaves from misery and suffering, how much more do we need to methodically relieve pain (take, collect, bring, spread) in today’s world.

This points to a truth about Judaism’s activating style. I heard it recently stated by David ben Moshe, a Baltimore-born Israeli who is a fitness trainer and artful communicator. He said, “It’s easier to act your way into new ways of thinking, than to think your way into a new way of acting.”

I love this formulation. It carries a surprising lesson: a new heart results from action, not the other way around. You might have thought a change-of-heart would make you kinder. This is, of course, often how things work. Yet, sometimes, kinder doing will give rise to kinder thinking and feeling.

This, in turn, quickens your spirit. You act with purpose and on purpose. As bestselling author and social scientist Arthur Brooks wrote this week, it’s part of  “a life lived on purpose.”

A parent asks a guilty-faced child, “Did you do that on purpose?” The question itself feels like a dart. Perhaps now, today, the same question can begin to feel like an invitation from deep within you. May your response be good for you and for others.

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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