Tidying Up to Spark Joy by Rabbi Yoshi Zweiback


Tidying Up
by Rabbi Yoshi Zweiback from Stephen Wise Temple

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: Tell the Israelite people to bring Me gifts; you shall accept gifts for Me from every person whose heart so moves him. (Exodus 25:1-2)

לֵּאמֹֽר: אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה  יְהוָ֖ה  וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר

יִדְּבֶ֣נּוּ לִבּ֔וֹ תִּקְח֖וּ אֶת־תְּרוּמָתִֽי׃

 כָּל־אִישׁ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר מֵאֵ֤ת תְּרוּמָ֑ה׃

When I was a kid, tidying up was definitely not something I looked forward to.

Now it’s officially a craze.

Marie Kondo’s show, “Tidying Up,” is a big hit on Netflix. It’s based on her book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which has sold millions of copies and has been translated to 30 languages.

Sermon from Soulful Shabbat at Stephen Wise Temple February 8, 2019

Here’s how Kondo describes the way it all started:

“I was obsessed with what I could throw away. One day, I had a kind of nervous breakdown and fainted. I was unconscious for two hours. When I came to, I heard a mysterious voice, like some god of tidying telling me to look at my things more closely. And I realised my mistake: I was only looking for things to throw out. What I should be doing is finding the things I want to keep. Identifying the things that make you happy: that is the work of tidying.”

The basic idea is to go through your belongings, keeping only those things that “make your heart flutter” or “spark joy” in you.

I was thinking about this “tidying up” phenomenon as I read the opening verses of last week’s Torah portion.

Our ancestors are asked to bring donations for the construction of the Tabernacle.

All sorts of objects are mentioned – gold and silver and bronze; linen and ram skins; acacia wood; pure oil for the menorah; aromatic incense; precious stones. All for the purpose of constructing a Tabernacle so that, as our Torah puts it, we might be closer to God.

It’s an inversion. We are asked to take objects that most probably make OUR hearts flutter and we give them away for a higher purpose.

Here’s the insight from our tradition: the focus is on “sparking joy,” as it were, in God’s heart, in the hearts of members of our community.

I’m not suggesting that what God wants above all else is for us to build edifices in God’s honor. I don’t believe that God would very much care about that sort of stuff.

But the notion that we should devote our time, our talent, and our treasure to behaving in ways that would bring God joy and satisfaction – I like that idea very much.

Indeed – that idea makes my heart flutter.

Let’s ask ourselves – just as a thought experiment – what we could do to spark joy in God and in those around us. I bet we would be kinder, gentler, more loving and more generous people. I imagine we would fight harder for justice. I’m sure we would be better people as a result.

It’s not that our joy is unimportant. It’s the idea that the well-being and satisfaction of others should matter, too.

And it’s a core Jewish value. It’s the way the Rambam understands the very central teaching of our tradition, what Rabbi Akiva called the great principle of Torah:

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

What I want for myself – that is, what makes my heart flutter – I work to provide for the other.

This way of thinking, this way of living will make hearts flutter. It will spark joy in others, in ourselves, and maybe even in God.

It’s the kind of tidying up to which we should commit ourselves.

Rabbi Yoshi at Stephen Wise Temple

Read this article on the Jewish Journal

Tidy up to spark joy

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Ellen Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries and six continents. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she worked on cruise ships for seven years and backpacked for three years in Asia. She is the founder of the website WeSaidGoTravel which is read in 235 countries and was named #3 on Rise Global’s top 1,000 Travel Blogs. Niver is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, Inc. With more than 150,000 followers across social media, she has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best, is verified on Twitter and listed on IMDb, and is the Social Media Manager for the Los Angeles Press Club. You can find Lisa Niver talking travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, Satellite Media Tours, The Jet Set TV and Orbitz travel webisodes as well as her YouTube channel, where her WeSaidGoTravel videos have over 1.6 million views. After three months on TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels and YouTube Shorts, she had over 500,000 (1/2 million) views. As a journalist, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors and been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. She has been a judge for the Gracie Awards for the Alliance of Women in Media, and has run 15 travel competitions on her website, publishing over 2,500 writers and photographers from 75 countries. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty times.   Niver has published more than 2000 articles, in more than three dozen magazines and journals including National Geographic, Wired, Teen Vogue, HuffPost Personal, POPSUGAR, Ms. Magazine, Luxury Magazine, Smithsonian, Sierra Club, Saturday Evening Post, AARP, AAA Explorer Magazine, American Airways, Delta Sky, enRoute (Air Canada), Hemispheres, Jewish Journal, Myanmar Times, BuzzFeed, Robb Report, Scuba Diver Life, Ski Utah, Trivago, Undomesticated, USA Today, TODAY, Wharton Magazine, and Yahoo. Awards National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards 2021 Winner: Book Critic: Ms. Magazine “Untamed: Brave Means Living From the Inside Out” 2019 Winner: Soft News Feature for Film/TV: KTLA TV “Oscars Countdown to Gold with Lisa Niver” 2019 Finalist for: Soft News, Business/Music/Tech/Art Southern California Journalism Awards 2022 Finalist: Book Criticism 2021 Winner: Technology Reporting 2021 Finalist: Book Criticism 2020 Winner: Print Magazine Feature: Hemispheres Magazine, “Painter by the Numbers, Rembrandt” 2020 Finalist: Online Journalist of the Year, Activism Journalism, Educational Reporting, Broadcast Lifestyle Feature 2019 Finalist: Broadcast Television Lifestyle Segment for “Ogden Ski Getaway” 2018 Finalist: Science/Technology Reporting, Travel Reporting, Personality Profile 2017 Winner: Print Column “A Journey to Freedom over Three Passovers” Social Media Presence YouTube Channel: We Said Go Travel (1.6 million views) Short form video:TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels, YouTube Shorts Twitter: lisaniver (90,000 followers) Instagram: lisaniver (24,000 followers) Pinterest: We Said Go Travel (20,000 followers and over 70,000 monthly views) Facebook: lisa.niver (5,000 followers); We Said Go Travel (3,000 followers) LinkedIn: lisaellenniver (9000 contacts)

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