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October 1, 2016 / 28 Elul, 5776
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Jewish Meditation

Meditation is all the rage in cyberspace it seems and what’s more “it is keeping capitalism alive.”

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But the article goes on to say, “The biggest problem with mindfulness is that it is becoming part of the self-help movement and hence part of the disease that it is supposed to cure.” That is precisely the problem that we have seen. The hijacking of Kabbalah from an intense supra layer over a framework of religious daily practice, to a popular quick fix with minimal commitment or religious investment, a Hollywood fad.

That is the modern way. But it is doomed to mediocrity, as any popular movement is as its shine wears off. History has taught us (so has Malcolm Gladwell, distilling the wisdom of others) that only intense involvement in any subject or sphere brings mastery. So it is with religion. As the world suddenly discovers what we have known for millennia. Sadly, too many in our tradition treat religion as a social phenomenon or a means of social control. It is stripped of its deeper meaning and spiritual heights and replaced with ugliness, materialism, and banality. In furniture, music, and clothes we either glorify kitsch or bathos. I look around me and I do not like what I see. But when I return to the actual content of Torah and its mystical depth, I thank the Almighty for our heritage. “Thanksgiving” in the USA is once a year. For me it is every day.

Jeremy Rosen

About the Author: Jeremy Rosen is an Orthodox rabbi, author, and lecturer, and the congregational rabbi of the Persian Jewish Center of New York. He is best known for advocating an approach to Jewish life that is open to the benefits of modernity and tolerant of individual variations while remaining committed to halacha (Jewish law). His articles and weekly column appear in publications in several countries, including the Jewish Telegraph and the London Jewish News, and he often comments on religious issues on the BBC.


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