I'm going to wager that this is a first Talmud pun...🤔🤓✡.       

Often times, as I'm writing a style post that began as more one dimensional, it morphs into a deeper piece. I love when this happens. I admittedly feel like a bit of a douche waxing philosophic about an outfit. Sure, I love fashion. I really do. I have always used it as a means of expression. One of my earliest memories is of a four year old me wearing a faux denim cowboy dress, purchased from Pathmark. Um, as in the supermarket. My mother begged me to wear something else, but I stubbornly insisted on wearing that dress numerous days in a row. Questionable fashion choice, but good for me for owning Herself even in nursery school. It took me decades to gain footing in other areas of my life, but in that department I guess I stubbornly did my thang. However, while I really like clothing and accessories, let's face it; it's not what makes the world spin on its axis. So when I'm able to turn a style post into substance, I feel proud, especially since that evolves organically. It's always unplanned. While writing the post about the navy leather outfit, other ideas took shape in my hand. I referenced some but more thoughts remained that I wanted to share with you. That's the thing about a true idea; it's the center of a spiderweb of thoughts🕷.

It will always yield more, cause us to keep going. I mean, why stop? Surely there's someone you can ask/vent to/discuss with. THAT is what makes the world spin on its axis🌎. That is the point of this blog. In Judaism the Talmud encourages questions, discussions, and debates. Different rabbis represented opposing schools of thought, and laws were created based on how the majority opined. I loved learning Talmud when I was younger. I enjoyed the Aramaic in which it's written, and in general I love to analyze. But I've been grappling with this lately; does any organized religion truly welcome questions? It's easy to say that, as long as the answers and results yield the same. I have been feeling that the message might be, "Sure, ask away, as long as you stick the formula that the rest of us are using. Cuz if you don't, well..." Religion and spirituality are two completely separate entities, though they often get muddled together. Many use religion as a way of convincing themselves it's bringing them to a higher spiritual plain. It does not work this way. The only way to exist in a state of pure spirituality is to connect to your God given spirit, the one tool already within you. We were all given this incredible gift at birth. Imagine yourself full of this vast expanse of cosmic energy, just in the jacket of your amazing body. A jacket that's one day going to be removed, as hard as that is to admit.

Can it really be that our spirit, this undefinable magic, is affected by your sexual orientation, race, length of your skirt, celibacy, or in which direction you light the menorah? That if you're a girl with visible elbows or ankles, you are deemed less spiritual? That the amount of Hail Marys or psalms you say determines your relationship to God?  I say this not in ridicule but in genuine inquisitiveness. If God made all of us, ALL of us, and brought us into this world in such a state of clean perfection, do we really think He is setting us up for a lifetime of crawling through an obstacle course of rules just to return to Him? Don't you think He loves you more than that? The greatest spiritual teachers talk about how all our actions are based on either love or fear. When we act in a manner that's beneath us,  it's because we are usually deep down afraid of something. Afraid of not being loved, being unseen, being wrong, feeling not in control of our own lives, scared of death, feeling more jealous than we want to admit, etc. The following of rules, as I've come to see it, is a very fear based practice. It's a carefully constructed illusion of control. If I do this God will reward me.  If I do that I won't get struck by lightening.  If I do x I'll be known as devout in my community.  If I'm a good boy or girl I'm guaranteed a front row seat in heaven.  How did we get so conditioned by thoughts such as these? Think about it; other flesh and bone humans decided all these rules. What makes anyone the authority? Why are we so sure this is what God wants??? He never told any of us.

Interpretations of what other humans believe to be the will of God has morphed over the years into some pretty crazy shit. I had a teacher in high school who would be considered to be exceptionally devout. She taught me in tenth grade. I was flummoxed one day in class as she explained to us that after her adopted son turned 13, the age of bar mitzvah, she will no longer touch him in any way. Since he's not biologically hers, any physical contact between sexes is forbidden. WHA????? This reminds me of my favorite line in the film The Royal Tenenbaums, where the awesome Gene Hackman says of Gwyneth Paltrow,"and this is my adopted daughter, Helen." How sad a life for any child to not receive oceans of physical affection from his mother? How can that not lead to a life of loneliness, isolation, and neglect? To not kiss your son goodnight in the name of God? Come on. That can't be a divine wish. I know that's an extreme case, but I also don't think God really cares if I wait one, three, or six hours between eating meat and dairy. Or if I take a final with exposed ankles. Or if I hold hands with my (imaginary) boyfriend? Or if someone finds true love and peace with someone of the same gender. Or if I'm Jewish or not. I know God loves me, and that's frankly all I need to go forth. Look, He's not handing the manual to me just like He's not handing to manual to the Pope or the Chief Rabbi of Israel. All this is just what I believe He wants from me. And that is to be a kind, peaceful, giving, and receptive contributor to the world. To act from my spirit, not from a man made encyclopedia of rules.

Before these rule books, we already were given what we need to feel connected: the elements, the stars, our bodies, our breathing. There is no purer place than a hospital delivery room. When that baby comes out, attached to its mother, nestled in her arms, crying, blinking open its eyes for the first time, is that mother thinking ,"I can't wait to plow you with religious dogma so that you'll have a successful, proper life?" No, of course not. No mother is thinking that, nor is the father. The first thing any parent in a delivery room wants to know is if their new child is breathing. It's all that matters. A healthy, breathing child. As time goes on we want that baby to smile, to laugh, to eat, to sleep, to walk, to be kind, to let us hug them, to share with their little friends. Isn't it amazing how those things are all we want? Maybe this is what God wants from us too. If we were created in His divine image, and if within us exists this infinitesimal magic, maybe we are more similar to God than we are comfortable with. Because we are human, and humans feel adrift in the abstract. So we cling to restrictions and stringencies because we don't know how to get through the day without them. We need to trust more. Trust that God is happy with us the way He made us. God is too busy to make a half assed project. He already gave you all you need. Seek spiritual connection within, not from without. I promise it's more fulfilling that way. It brings a sense of calm to your life you didn't know was attainable. How wonderful to not live your life in outline form. If religions each have their own gazillion interpretations of life, then which one is right? It's impossible to determine that. There's no winner in that race because there's one judge, and He is rooting for all the competitors. So let's use what we KNOW we have and not what we THINK we need to live a spiritual life. Hey, no one ever arose from the dead to tell us what the heavens really want from us, so we can stop trying so hard feverishly to guess. If we all unzip our jackets of gender, race, and religion, we will find we all have the exact same tool kit. The one they give you with free formula samples in the maternity ward. Let's use that and see how it goes.       


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