A CALL FOR MAPS OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH IN JUDAISM
Two explorers arrive on the shore of a country where neither has ever travelled. They both set off on their own into this new and wondrous land with the earnest hope to traverse it and find their way to the far shore. Each senses, however, just how many tangled paths, unhelpful diversions, and potential obstacles await. All the same, there is one crucial difference between them that will undoubtedly impact their prospects: the first traveler has a map while the second traveler does not. On whose success would you bet? Even if this second traveler has an excellent sense of direction and stops frequently for guidance along the way, the lack of a “big picture” and overall trajectory provided by a map would clearly be a significant impediment, quite possibly preventing this explorer from arriving at his or her goal.
As a Jew who is committed to ongoing spiritual growth, I relate to this second explorer within the Jewish tradition. Like that traveler I have plenty of drive, a decent sense of direction when it comes to feeling my way into the spiritual core of Jewish practices, and I’ve definitely gotten much advice along the way. Yet in all my years as a student of Judaism, while I’ve heard increasingly more people talk about spirituality, I have encountered very little material that could rightfully be considered a “map” of the territory of spiritual growth—which isn’t to say that such maps don’t exist.