The 30-Day Jewish Challenge
Are you up for the challenge?
This week the Wall Street Journal had a piece on "The Lure of 30-Day Challenges: Better Abs and More:"
The 30-day exercise challenge is increasingly popular, especially as an alternative to New Year's resolutions, which often fail this time of year. The pitch is to stick with a commitment for a month...Thirty-day challenges push people to chase goals big and small, from cutting out soda to writing a novel...Internet searches for "30 day challenge" have climbed 140% since 2013, according to Google. Gyms and yoga studios offer them as a way to win customers, hoping that a 30-day stint will turn into a habit. Some 30-day challenges were one-off experiments, including not watching TV and cutting out sugar.
The article got me thinking; why don't we create a 30-Day Challenge for Jewish things like mitzvot to help Jewish people undertake a new level of commitment? After all, Judaism is not an all or nothing religion. Whatever steps a person takes to follow the mitzvot, no matter what level or station of life they are at, that is always a plus and to be applauded and celebrated. If you don’t observe Shabbat but decide to light candles, then good for you! That’s a great positive step. Doing that one thing is better than doing nothing. Judaism is a journey that is taken one step at a time.
The genius of the 30-Day Challenge is that it allows people to see and taste what something is like without being intimidated by the scary and overwhelming idea of a wholesale lifestyle change. It is a first, very meaningful step to get a good sense of what it would be like to incorporate a particular area of improvement and growth in a person's life.
There are many opportunities to use this technique to take yourself to the next level of commitment to Judaism. The 30-Day No Shell-Fish Challenge. The 30-Day Tefillin Challenge (it would include a weekly rest period since you don’t put them on during Shabbat). The 30-Day Shabbat Challenge could offer someone the ability to keep a full Shabbat for one month, or maybe the 30-Day No Cell-Phone-on-Shabbat Challenge to commit to not using your iPhone for the entire Shabbat day, from Friday night until Saturday night, for a month. The 30-Day Learn-Torah Challenge could be accomplished by reading a different article on aish.com or a 5 minutes a day reading from a Jewish book. The possibilities are endless. (I would be happy to hear your suggestions and/or commitments to your 30-Day Jewish Challenge in the comment section below.)
In fact I think this 30-Day Challenge concept has its origins in Judaism. We have recently begun the Hebrew month of Adar which is famous for joy and happiness. The Rabbis in the Talmud declare, "When the month of Adar begins, we increase joy." This was the first historical 30-Day Challenge where a full month was dedicated to a particular improvement in our lives. A full month where I will focus on happiness every day.
So let’s utilize the power of Adar and take the 30-Day Challenge of Joy and Happiness. Wake up each morning for the next 30 days and declare loud and clear, "Thank God I am alive!" You never know; this may even spread beyond 30 days and impact your whole year.