Reimagining Spirituality

Examining a new model of activism.

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Spirituality without Limits

Moses's tireless action during the revelation scene provides us with a model of activism that concludes with heightened spirituality. He works diligently and wholeheartedly with the people for a finite period of time, and when this is finished, he has a moment of personal closeness with God. Toward the end of Parashat Yitro, the tone of the text softens to a quiet intensity as it describes Moses's final ascent up the mountain: ''The nation stood from afar, and Moses approached the dense cloud where God was'' (Exodus 20:18). This image not only highlights his unique political role among the people, but also his unique intimacy with the Divine. As a leader and as an individual, Moses seems to appreciate the sanctity of the political and the personal, the concrete and the ineffable.

Parashat Yitro teaches us that spirituality is not limited to quiet moments of introspective reflection; rather, it often includes concrete physical action and engagement with others. In fact, when we tirelessly work to pursue justice we may find that it leads us to even greater moments of spiritual fulfillment.

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Sam Berrin Shonkoff is currently the Jewish student life coordinator at Stanford Hillel. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religious Studies from Brown University and has also studied in Jerusalem at Hebrew University, Pardes Institute, and The Conservative Yeshiva.