When I was in seminary, I would spend hours pouring over Torah. But once I left sem and got married I found it harder and harder to take the time I needed to focus on my growth. Married women have much less time than I’d ever imagined as a single in sem. I’m not sure of the answer in order to find more time but one of the things that has been organized in my city in the past is a one week summer camp for women. Its 5 days of intense learning usually offered in the summer when those with kids may send them to summer camp. While 5 days might not seem like a lot, it’s enough to recharge one’s spiritual and intellectual batteries. “I’m not sure if anything like this exists in other cities but if it does I’d be very interested to hear from people who have been to such a camp.
A more immediate plan of action for me is to use the Shovavim (the 6 week period starting when we read Parshas Shemos) as a springboard. The Shovavim which begins on Sunday is a time for teshuva and I myself am trying to create my own tikkun middot. I have chosen a few practical but small strategies that will hopefully help. I have decided to complete sefer tehillim during this period. And I decided to do it on my morning commute on the subway so I would be focused on H’ and not on the gashmius and the pritzus that usually surrounds me on the subway.
I have decided to work on my tefillah, to raise it to a higher level. It is so easy to get consumed by the demands of the daily routine and let that spill over into our davening either by not davening at all or by davening without kavanah. This interaction with H’ should be a spiritual experience and to get there I think we need to focus on G-d’s presence. I have actually decided to say less (temporarily) with more kavannah and see how that goes.
My 3rd goal is to make some changes to my shabbos table. When I first moved back to N. America I was shocked at the types of conversations people had on shabbos, so much divrei chol. But after 9 months of being here I too have succumbed to that pressure and often find my own table filled with talk of jobs, news and other mundane non-shabbos talk. So I am going to make a conscious effort to speak more words of torah and encourage my guests to speak more words of torah. I am certainly not saying that it there will be no casual talk but I’d like to see a table where people speak torah with a sprinkling of mundane weekday things as opposed to the reverse.