Is God Comfortable Here?
Life, being finite, is filled with mundane activity. But all of it can be elevated into infinity in the instant that it takes to ask a simple question.
A Chassidic tale relates that the Rebbe of Kotzk once
summoned his chassidim and challenged them, "Where can you find God?" One
disciple volunteered, "His glory resides in heaven." The Rebbe frowned with
displeasure. A second disciple offered, "The entire world is filled with His
glory." Once again, the Rebbe shook his head in disapproval. Anxious to
understand, the chassidim implored the Rebbe, "Please, tell us where can we find
Him?" The Rebbe said, "Wherever you invite Him!"
All of us at some point in our lives struggle with the
need to make God a more integral part of our lives. As such it is imperative
that we understand how the Rebbe's counsel can be translated into our
Contrary to what we might think, making God a real part of our ongoing, moment-to-moment existence does not require an overhaul of our lives.
Interestingly enough, and contrary to what we might think,
making God a real part of our ongoing, moment-to-moment existence does not
require an overhaul of our lives. It does, however, demand something that is
very hard to come by in our hurried and driven society -- focus and
Most of us move through life, day after day, in a
predictable, robot-like way, hardly giving what we are doing a second thought.
To most of us, the words of the Psalmist, "I have God before me always"
represents a remote and wishful goal -- an ideal accessible only to the very
holy and saintly of spirit.
Such, indeed, was my thinking until the realization hit me
like a thunderbolt.
TAKING STOCK OF EVERYDAY LIFE
When I took stock of my normal everyday life, I realized
how very mundane it was. I would wake up, get the kids ready for school, serve
breakfast, carpool, clean up, vacuum, make lunch, make supper, carry on with
telephone conversations, with familial interactions, help the kids with their
homework, get them to bed, etc. -- all in the context of a typical day. How much
spirituality could there be in a day consumed primarily by physical and
The scariest part, I realized, was that those things which
are purely physical, are limited, moribund and perishable -- they die, never to
be heard from again. How could I justify a life where the majority of my most
precious moments would be relegated to oblivion?
Would the better part of my life be buried at its
conclusion, like an animal? Would it be summed up with "been there, done
that and gone forever"?
Would the better part of my life be buried at its conclusion, summed up with "been there, done that and gone forever"?
In my heart of hearts, I knew it couldn't be. The moments
of my life were too dear and meaningful --yes, even those spent baking,
cooking, cleaning and diapering babies -- that I should consign them to
The Rebbe had advised, "Invite God into your life. He will
come when He is invited." I realized that what it takes to transform a "mundane
moment" into a "spiritual moment" is the presence of the Almighty.
As soon as one introduces God and His Eternal Essence into
the picture, His being there transforms the moment into something immortal and
timeless -- into a moment that will never die, a moment that lasts forever.
INVITING GOD INSIDE
How do we do this?
Quite simply! Whatever it is that we are doing, we stop for
an instant to ask ourselves the question, "Is God comfortable being here now?"
As I talk to my friend on the phone, I pause momentarily
to reflect: Is the nature and the content of my conversation such that it
invites His presence or banishes it? Is my conversation gossipy or is it
positive and uplifting?
As I clean, vacuum and care for my children (all clearly
"mundane" activities) am I resentful or do I recognize that this is all
necessary for the creation of a sacred environment, conducive to spiritual growth? In
other words, given my present attitude, would God be comfortable being with me
or not? If the response is affirmative, then I have captured the moment for
I ask: Right now, would God be comfortable being with me or not? If I can say yes, then I have captured the moment for eternity.
Commerce is clearly a "weekaday" endeavor, but by applying
the Torah's ethics to our business transactions, we can invite the Almighty to
join us, thereby claiming these moments for all of time.
The same holds true of personal interactions and spousal
relationships, if they are sufficiently sensitive such that God would relish
When we sit down to eat, do we exercise our
prerogative of choice to ask ourselves, "Is this what God would want me to eat? Does
it meet His standards? Is it kosher? Is it healthy? Will it give me the requisite
energy to do that which I need to do in order to fulfill His will? Is it the
right amount? Did I remember to express my gratitude by reciting a bracha? Bottom line: Would the Creator be comfortable sitting at my table?
The Psalmist's exhortation that "we have God before us
always," when applied to our daily lives means focusing constantly on the
opportunity to have God accompany us in everything that we do. No moment of our
lives need be written off as "time killed."
For those of us who aspire to invite infinity into our
finite lives, all it takes is asking the simple question: "Is God comfortable
Heaven on Earth.
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