Wednesday Word: Halacha

Halacha is a word that means Jewish law. It is derived from the Hebrew word for walk. And the word for pilgrimage comes from the word leg.

I know all this because Rabbi Ari Plost told me all this recently in response to an e-mail thread regarding the HARC board meeting this evening and who would be in attendance. I said that I would be there and that I'm now doing most “normal” things. Rabbi Ari responded with, “Halacha.”

My journey from back surgery to full recovery is, like everyone who is recovering from one type of surgery or another, taken in small doses, sometimes quite literally one step at a time. As I progressed from walking fifty feet, to walking a short lap around my unit, to walking multiple long laps around my unit, to walking around the block, to (most recently) walking two miles, these progressions were taken a little at a time. Those first small steps in the hospital led to longer and longer trips.

Our journey doesn't begin at the end. Our journey doesn't begin with a two-mile walk three days after surgery. Our journey doesn't begin by impressive physical or mental feats. Our journey begins in the beginning. Our journey begins with small measures of practice.

I've always hated the question, “Where would you like to be in five years?” I'm never really sure how to answer that, because life can throw so many curve balls and twists and turns that that five-year plan becomes just another wasted resolution.

I think a better question is, “What would you like to get better at?” A deeper, more intentional prayer life. Donating time or finances to a deserving organization. Focusing on my children. Playing a musical instrument. The possibilities are endless. But none of us is going to pick up a trumpet and play like Louis Armstrong. None of us is going to step out of the house and run a marathon. None of us is going to read the Bible cover to cover this month.

Instead, make your journey one leg at a time. Take a small walk with whatever it is you want to get better at. Do you want to spend 30 minutes in prayer before you start your day? Set your alarm 10 minutes earlier and learn to spend 5 minutes in prayer first. And then walk a little further; pray a little longer.

As Rabbi Ari said, “Even the smallest measures of practice can lead us to greater efforts.”



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