Routinely Holy

My morning ritual is unchanging. I begin each day with the New York Times Games. After Wordle and Spelling Bee, I make the same breakfast, eggs, and toast. Only then do I read and respond to my emails. Afterward, I shower and dress. The routine is predictable, yet my approach can be holy.

In Leviticus, we glimpse the daily routine of the priests. They accepted and slaughtered animals as sacrifices. Torah portion Tzav, read this week, gives nauseating details about the blood, fat, and entrails of the sacrifice.

Juxtaposed to the slaughter is a detailed and surprising description of how the priests were bathed, dressed, and adorned before heading off to the holy abattoir. If dressing for work at the slaughterhouse, I would not first bathe and then dress in fine linens!

Yet, the Torah offers a lesson on how to approach each day. Whether, a butcher, baker, doctor, or lawyer, each can imagine a holy daily pattern. What if my shower and clothing selection is a precursor to a sacred enterprise? I don’t have to be a priestly slaughterer to imagine that the work I perform in this world is productive if not redemptive.

I can begin by being mindful while bathing and dressing. There is warm water pouring on me. Amen! I have a selection of clothes in my closet. Amen! I prepare myself to serve the world with gratitude for all I have.

Our Jewish tradition captures the holiness of our daily routine with morning blessings. The blessing of clothing the naked corresponds to our getting dressed. The blessing of girding Israel with strength is inspired by buckling your belt. Putting on a yarmulka is like crowning Israel with glory. The ancient wisdom, encoded by Tractate Berachot of the Talmud, dedicates our preparation for leaving home each morning. Whatever words you choose, try to sanctify your morning routine with gratitude and praise.

The priestly routine teaches another lesson. To connect with the fullness of your life, take notice of the mundane ways you prepare for the day.  Selecting a shirt and shoes is the foundation for a holy endeavor. If we understand our lives to be purposeful, we find inspiration. Whatever lies ahead in your day – be it cooking, cleaning, consulting, or constructing – notice your preparation, make it holy, and bring dignity to your life.

So how will you prepare yourself each day? I suggest you start with both gratitude and a holy intention. Begin with the way. you attend to the outermost parts of yourself.  Then, offer this world the best within you and become your fullest self. Then you will offer kindness to others, create what is valuable, and improve the world.

Rabbi Evan Krame