- What are the three most important Jewish rituals in your life? Why are they so meaningful to you?
- Why do you think the observance of Shabbat is listed in the Ten Commandments before the prohibitions against murder, adultery and theft? Where would you rank the importance of Shabbat within the rest of the Ten Commandments?
- Jews observe Shabbat in various ways. Do you observe Shabbat? If so, how do you observe Shabbat and what role does it play in your life?
- Rabbi Sacks wrote “to touch the face of God, you do not need to scale mountains or cross oceans in search of fabled lands. All you need to do is sit at a table and sing God’s praises, make a home and open it to God’s presence.” Do you agree that deep spiritual connection can be formed through seemingly routine activities such as Shabbat dinner? Reflect on your own experiences.
- Written in Spain in the 13th century, “Sefer HaChinuch‘ (the book of education) discusses the 613 mitzvot (commandments) in the Torah. In the book, it says “acharei Hama’asim, nimshachim halivavot” meaning our hearts follow our deeds. Judaism is a religion of action in which thoughts and intentions are important but it’s our actions that count. Which other aspects of your life can you relate this to?
- Reflect on your favorite holiday growing up. Why was it your favorite? What made it so special?
- In the book “Sacred Fragments”, Rabbi Neil Gilman speaks about rituals in the following way:
“The ultimate goal of the entire Jewish ritual system, then, is not simply to enable us to identify with this particular community, as the folkways position would have it but, rather, to capture in our personal lives an elaborate cosmic order which extends to God himself as the ultimate cause and embodiment of that order.”
Reflect on this quote and how it relates to your own life. Are rituals valuable as a way to identify with community or are they valuable for their intrinsic value (ie do you light Chanukah candles because that’s what Jews do and have done for thousands of years or because if it’s spiritual meaning?)