I recently decided to dive into a deeper study of Jewish practices and ended up reading two books simultaneously. It’s easier on a Kindle, because I don’t have to lug both books around. I found the experience of reading these two books together brought a very well rounded perspective to Jewish practice. I recommend both, and together if you can.
I decided to use God in Your Body as my primary guide and after I would finish a chapter in that, I would choose the appropriate parallel chapter in The Rituals & Practices of a Jewish Life. Both are fairly progressive with God in Your Body being the more progressive of the two. What both books really bring to life is that Judaism is a religion of action. It’s deed, not creed. That’s why we love to say things like “observant Jews” — a phrase I hate because it really means “orthodox” and it’s a very passive term.
What both of these books do is open the doors of “observance” for the un-orthodox. It’s not about being observant, it’s about practice. Practice is a fundamental element of Judaism, and most religions and spiritual paths.
“A practice is done “no matter what” not for strictness’s sake, but so that it can be a prism that casts light upon the mind.” — Jay Michaelson, God in Your Body.
This concept of practice is what both books are about. How and why to begin in Jewish spiritual practice. The Rituals & Practices of a Jewish Life does a great job of explaining the traditions, while still offering entry points for those not ready to adopt a custom in the most orthodox-rabbinical fashion. God in Your Body is a great guide to embodied practice, Jewish or otherwise. Its focus is embodied Jewish practice, but I think it would be a great read for anyone willing to read about Jewish practice while learning about embodied practice.
If you are looking to begin or deepen your understanding of traditional Jewish practices like food blessings, wearing tallit, kippah, and tefilin, daily prayers, or the mikvah then start with The Rituals & Practices of a Jewish Life. If you are looking to really explore embodied Jewish practice, and have some knowledge of these practices — then start with God in Your Body. If you are crazy like me — grab both at once.
[tags]religion, spiritual practice, embodied judaism, earth-based judaism, spirituality, reading[/tags]