According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, the definition of ritual is a set of actions or words performed in a regular way, often as part of a religious ceremony. The power ritual actions and words can act as a means of healing. The act of keeping kosher and observing Shabbat can be the beginning of small weekly and daily rituals.
Although a ritual is performed regularly and often, it is different from an addiction or habit. Unlike an addiction or habit, spiritual ritual has a positive affect that one can benefit from, rather than have a need or desire to stop. Even a small tiny action performed once a week can have enormous benefits.
Many Jews observe a ritual at every meal by eating Kosher. Simply put eating Kosher is abiding by the dietary laws in the Torah. Jews do not eat pork or other foods listed as forbidden. We also do not eat meat and dairy together as the Torah states, “a kid shall not boil in its mother’s milk.” At every meal we are reminded of the dietary laws in the Torah by the foods we choose to eat or not eat. Eating kosher exemplifies self discipline and brings one spiritually closer to God.
Observing Shabbat is another practice that Jews perform and take seriously. The benefits of observing Shabbat are many. Attending service on Friday night and Saturday morning bring observant Jews together as a community. No matter how one”s week was, what is going on in ones life either positive or negative, it can be comforting to know in a world of uncertainty where you will be spending your Friday night and Saturday morning and who you will be spending it with.
Each branch of Judaism has a different service although many of the same prayers are said. Each week depending on what service is being held, the same prayers will be said and will be said in the same order. This gives Shabbat a structure on which to build.
On Shabbat the Torah states that one is to refrain from doing work. In American society this can be hard to accomplish as electronics keep us tied to all of the obligations and urgencies of our daily lives. It may seem impossible to take a day to just relax, spend time with one’s family and to be offline. Once you start doing this as part of a Shabbat ritual it is amazingly rewarding. At first your friends and family may push back wondering why you did not return their call or text. After some time they will know and come to accept that you are observing Shabbat and they will have to wait.
These are two small steps in observing Jewish ritual. Performing these actions and words every day or week can keep one grounded as we experience life’s challenges and rewards. There are only benefits, spiritual enlightenment and a feeling of being closer to God. I invite you to try it.