What do spiritual side development, learning pedagogies, a post high school year in Israel, and hip pain have in common? Perhaps you can come up with an answer, but for me it’s sparked the development of a set of useful ideas, strategies and specifics in a number of areas.
I’d like to present these ideas, strategies and specifics in short ~400 word segments. You can read 400 words in anywhere from 1 to 4 minutes, depending on whether your reading for skimming (400–700 wpm), comprehension (200–400 wpm) or learning (100-200 wpm), so it won’t take much of your time.
Let’s start with spiritual side development, since ultimately that’s what we’re here for. Over the past 2 years I’ve reconnected with a number of childhood friends, from my old non-observant neighborhood, via Facebook. Facebook has many advantages and pitfalls, but it’s re-connection enablement, has proven very valuable for me.
One of the friends, with whom that I’ve shared a number of dinners, is a non-religious family oriented, close-to-retirement teacher. He lives a full, simple, good life, having the time to do the things he enjoys most, including his fondness of reading, emailing and face-booking all things political. During one of our dinners he lamented that he felt that he had not sufficiently developed his spiritual side. He is not alone among this group of friends in this recognition and desire to develop a spiritual side.
I thought about his comment. Like most Baalei Teshuvas and Torah observant Jews, I have spent a significant portion of my life developing my spiritual side. I also knew where he was coming from, having been there myself, and I’m aware of the similar paths that many Baalei Teshuva have taken in their spiritual development. But it’s very clear to me that reading Strive for Truth in the subway, or spending a Shabbos in Monsey or Kew Gardens Hills, like I did back in the pre-BT day, is not what he, or most of my old neighborhood friends, need to develop their spiritual side.
I’ve been thinking about this question for well over a year. Despite the advances in “Jewish spiritual side” development tools and techniques spawned by the Outreach Revolution over the past 40 years, I can’t identify a tried and true path for Jewish people who want to grow spiritually, but are not necessarily on a path to full Torah observance in an observant community. (End of part 1)