Ways We Grow

Out of the Torah study world and into the real world.  Things have been picking up both with ulpan and with work, but as before, I find myself spending most of my waking hours hunched over a desk or in front of a computer.

I need to make time to do other things, to get out and to explore, and to grow in new ways.  It isn’t that my studies and my work aren’t enriching, because they are, but if I’m not careful now, pure Torah study will go by the wayside.  I recently picked up a book Living Each Day, by Dr. Rabbi Abraham Twerski.  Living, as I defined earlier, can be interpreted as growth, and specifically, growth through Torah.  In other words, we’re not really living unless we are growing.

A song by the band Cake called “Sheep Go to Heaven” says: “As soon as you’re born you start dying, so you might as well have a good time.”  So true.  But I’d like to suggest, that after we’re born, we start growing!  We keep growing physically until maturity sometime in our teens or twenties, and then if we’re not careful, we usually keep expanding physically into middle age.  After that, many people begin to shrivel.  We wrinkle, the cartilage between the vertebrae shortens the spine, so we shrink and hunch over.  We stop being able to see and hear as well.  Modern medicine and the rediscovery of natural therapies can slow down the aging process, but it’s true that physically, we start dying.

Spiritually, it’s another story.  How often do you hear “young” and “wise” in the same sentence?  We grow wiser over time, through life experiences, and we can continue to build up our spiritual selves (with setbacks, of course) as we physically age.  It doesn’t happen automatically, though.  It takes maintenance.

It’s been a balancing game, trying to figure out how to stay physically active and spiritually growing while taking on new responsibilities.  I’ve visited wheelchair basketball leagues in Chile and read Office Yoga books and bought at-home workout DVDs.  There really is no excuse for physical inactivity.  I’m trying to find an Israeli chevruta (learning partner), in order to work on my Hebrew and text skills on a regular schedule.  Failing that, Living Each Day has now become a part of my collection.  Staying growth-oriented is the key, no mater the physical limitations.  The spiritual ones, we know, are endless.


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Ilene Rosenblum is a writer and marketing professional living in Jerusalem.

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