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A Spiritual New Year’s Resolution

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January 3, 2013

Dear Friend of Israel,

Many of us make New Year’s resolutions. You might have made some yourself this year! Maybe you vowed to cross a few items off your long-term “to do” list. Or maybe your goals are more financially oriented – to save $50 every paycheque, or to pay off your debt by the end of the year.

We often think of resolutions in material terms. But there is, of course, another, even more important dimension to life – the spiritual. And today I’d like to suggest that all of us could benefit from spending as much time setting spiritual goals as we do on material ones.

What kind of spiritual goals do I mean? Well, for Jews as well as Christians studying the Bible is one of the loftiest and most enriching spiritual pursuits. Our love for God is linked with our love for His Word. Each day Jews express this through prayer: “Therefore, O LORD our God, when we lie down and when we rise up, we will ponder thy laws and rejoice in the words of the Torah and commandments. For they are our lives and the length of our days and upon them we will meditate day and night.”

Study of the Bible orders our daily lives and gives us the focus and inspiration that we need each day. It is the Torah (which literally means “teachings”) that brings solace, inner strength, and spiritual fulfillment to the Jew, in good times and in bad. It is the Torah that guides our path, shapes our character, and links us with God. It is the Torah that enables us to truly know God.

By immersing ourselves in the sacred act of Bible study, we can come to better understand both the content and source of that divine Word. For this reason, Jewish education and the study of the Torah is one of the most important mitzvoth, or religious duties, in all of the Jewish faith. Simply put, it is our highest goal for our spiritual lives.

As we strive towards achieving our unique spiritual goals, I encourage you, whether you are Jewish or Christian, to read the words of Psalm 119, the longest psalm and longest chapter in the Bible. It is a wonderful meditation on the beauty of God’s Word and how it helps us stay pure and grow in faith. “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105). I pray that the light of God’s Word will illuminate your way today, and into the future.

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Chairman, International Fellowship of Christians and Jews® of Australia