By Rabbi Yossel Kranz
Chabad of Virginia
I recently had my annual physical. Aside from the masks, it was the usual checkup—height, weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and stress tests on the treadmill.
Afterward, I couldn’t help but think:
When was the last time I had a “spiritual”?
During this pandemic, we have gone to extraordinary measures to ensure our physical wellbeing. As we slowly re-open our synagogues and explore the new normal, this is a good time to ask ourselves, “Are we in good spiritual shape?”
What’s our “height”? Do we walk tall? Are we proud and upright Jews, or are we apologetically stooped and bent over by the burden of an inferiority complex?
Diet of Torah
What about our “weight”? Are we on a well-balanced diet of Torah, the sustenance of our souls, or do we suffer from spiritual malnutrition?
Whenever the nurse or doctor takes my blood pressure, I always make the obvious connection—tefillin. I remember the story of the simple farmer who went for his first medical checkup. When the doctor asked him to roll up his sleeve, he asked why?
The doctor patiently explained that he needed to check his heart rate. “But why are you holding my arm if you want to see how my heart is?” “When I check your hand,” replied the physician, “I know how your heart is.” The hand that gives charity, for example, indicates that it’s connected to a healthy Jewish heart.
A Jewish heart doesn’t just pump blood; it pumps warmth and love. A healthy Jewish heart is the emotional center of every Jew, and it emotes and feels the pain of another. A healthy Jewish heart is inspired, particularly by events that point unmistakably to the hand of G‑d in the world. After a year of not going to Shul, would we pass a spiritual EKG? Could we benefit from a little spiritual Lipitor? (Available by the way, over the bima at your local synagogue!)
And finally, the stress test. Life can be a tedious treadmill. This year especially, it felt like we were running and running and getting nowhere fast. Do we have the spiritual stamina to trust in G‑d, and believe that everything has a purpose, and a positive one at that?
Our community has done such an amazing job weathering this storm. We have looked out for one another, supported our institutions, and acted responsibly. As a result, we can be together again. As they say in the business:
The Rabbi will see you now. Go get a spiritual.