Before I wrap in the mornings, I recite the Six Constant Mitzvot, and thanks to Ben and Rabbi Denbo, I recite the Seven Steps To Trusting Hashem. They are important and really great ways to prepare myself and get in the right mind-set before praying. It allows me a moment to shake off the night, try to get out of my chattering brain, and focus myself on really knowing before whom I stand.
An athlete would never go right into an event or exercise. We need a warm up… a prep. We need to focus on the task at hand.
I also made a list of all the things I am grateful for, and recite those out loud, which I think is another and important pre-prayer ritual. There is nothing wrong with asking Hashem for things in prayer. In fact, this is encouraged and can and should be very specific. Though the old adage to be careful what you wish for can fit in here nicely. We can ask for whatever we want… but it is always good to know and remember that Hashem knows what is best! The key is to make sure we recognize and express gratitude for all that we have. Especially before asking for more. Of course, all of this comes after the greatest, daily expression of gratitude, the Modeh Ani.
Then things get a bit more formal with specific prayers and rituals… I unwrap… and am off for the day. They key for me is to NOT let that connection stop. While I am not yet up to the three a day… and to be honest, I am hit and miss with my Bedtime Shema… though I have been pretty darn good with the Counting Of The Omer… I really, really need not only consistency… but to not get so swept up into life’s events without recognizing who is actually in control.
I added most of the lists mentioned above into my phone. I also have several “Jewish” apps, including the ArtScroll Siddur. While this may be a bit of a cheat… at least the lists… whatever I can do to stay connected to Hashem is a good and important thing. And this is the key.
It is so easy to get distracted… so easy to lose focus… so easy to put ourselves above and beyond anything else. So whatever we can do to keep ourselves holy is only a positive. And in an odd way, by having these lists and a Siddur on my phone, this crazy Apple product made in China is, in a very real way, HOLY. I am using it for something more than calling and texting… more than checking email and Facebook, and watching stupid videos.
And that is the goal isn’t it? To be holy. Which bring me to the other “list.” You know, that one with those 613 Mitzvot or Commandments. There are some we literally cannot do without the Beit HaMikdash, but there are some we simply have not chosen to do yet. I fall into that on many of them, and while I take comfort in so many of my friends and peers saying “You’ll get there,” I sometimes feel guilty and sometimes feel confused. Will I get there? How far will I go in this journey?
I am much further along than I ever thought I’d be… but I know there is so much more I want to do. So guess what? I’m gonna make some lists… lists of goals for myself and my Judaism. I need to put there where I look at them each and every day. I need to focus on them. And most importantly, I am going to keep moving forward… keep learning… keep trying to find the Holiness in myself and the world. Who knows… maybe I’ll make it onto my own personal Top 10 List! But #1 is connecting with Hashem!