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Roadside Assistance in the Holy Land

Art by Andrea D’Aquino

We asked Rami Shapiro to journey with 30 fellow seekers to this ancient flashpoint of world religions. Our question for the Rabbi was: “What does mature spirituality look like?”

Grammar aside, “spirituality” is a verb: a progressive stripping away of the conditioning that blinds you to the truest fact of your existence: you are a happening of God, YHVH (Exodus 3:15, from the Hebrew verb “to be”), the Happening happening as all happening. You are God the way a wave is the ocean. Because spirituality is progressive, I prefer to speak of a maturing rather than a mature spirituality. Spirituality isn’t fixed but fluid, not a final “aha” but a recurring “wow.” In the Hebrew Bible this maturing spirituality is called Lech Lecha: YHVH said to Abram and Sarai, “Lech lecha: take leave of your country, your clan, and your parents to journey to the land I will show you. . . .” (Genesis 12:1) Lech lecha literally means “walk (lech) to yourself (lecha)”—suggesting that this seemingly outer journey is in fact an inner one. The early rabbis agree and noted that if this were an outer journey you would first leave your parents, then your clan, and lastly your country rather than the other way around. The order Torah uses is based not on geography but psychology: It is easier to free …

Rabbi Rami Shipiro

Rabbi Rami Shapiro is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and teacher. In the print version of our magazine, he has an advice column, “Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler,” addressing reader questions pertaining to religion, spirituality, faith, family, God, social issues, and more. His latest book is Surrendered—The Sacred Art. Rabbi Rami hosts our podcast, “Essential Conversations.”

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