Excerpted from Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller’s Question and Answer series on Naaleh.com
Question: In one of your classes, you discussed how every physical thing is “hevel” because it will eventually end. I feel that most of what I can perceive and experience in this world is physical. If this is so, how can I develop myself? What can I hold onto?
Spirituality doesn’t mean cutting yourself off from the physical world. On the contrary, it is what you introduce into your interaction with this world.
My daughter volunteers for an organization called Zeh L’azeh. The woman who heads it is an incredible person. On chol hamoed Sukkot she arranges a “fantasy day” for widows and orphans. The magnificent experience ends with a Simchat Beit Hashoeiva where the “Who’s Who” in the Torah world attend, such as Rav Chaim Kanievski, the Gerrer Rebbe, and many other distinguished personalities. This huge undertaking involves hours of physical work including countless phone calls, shlepping boxes, and cleaning up. It’s gashmiut (physicality) all right, but it’s gashmiut concretized into action. This is genuine ruchniut (spirituality).
If you’re cooking dinner for your family, think of it as a chesed. They are just as hungry as strangers would be. If your intention is to build a home of loving kindness where you want to fulfill people’s needs, and create a healthy environment where people can draw closer to Hashem, this is ruchniut. Don’t let anyone ever deceive you into thinking anything other than that.