In Israel it seems to me that we define ourselves and others by how religious we and they are. From the anti-dati and hiloni, to what kipah our husband or children wear, to where we send our kids to school, if our children do army service, Hesder or sherut leumi. These groups further subdivide with regard to observance and the Rebbe they follow.
Having made Aliyah almost 13 years ago, I often feel there is a higher level of spirituality here in Israel, regardless of the level of observance. Outwardly, unashamedly, unabashedly, openly, proudly we observe others freely expressing their spirituality. Mine was expressed when I would proudly tell people I live in ‘Ir Hakodesh’, Jerusalem. But was my connection to the land of Israel really my only feeling of spirituality?
I consider myself modern Orthodox, however I often wonder about my spirituality, which when I looked up the definition on the web, it says: a connection to something bigger than ourselves including a search for meaning in life. I had thought that spirituality meant how much I felt connected to my religion, to Hashem. I would observe others and see how connected they seemed to be and wondered, ‘how connected am I to religion, observance and this somewhat elusive spirituality?’ Thinking of those dancing at weddings, Simchat Torah, watching young men and women breaking out (separately) into spontaneous song and dance, hands outstretched in prayer whether on Shabbat, or especially on Yom Kippur, I observed, I noted, and wondered why I could enjoy the dancing and singing, but I wasn’t feeling the connection that I felt others were both experiencing and sharing.
What exactly do I feel connected to, how do I express my spirituality that is and is not related to my level of religiosity? Can I be openly spiritual and not necessarily more religious or more observant? [Read more…]