I am often asked whether I actually experience moments of God’s Presence. This is a difficult question to answer, because it relates to things that cannot be verified by conventional means. It touches on something that does not fall within the parameters of any other experience.
The day after Yom Kippur, the synagogue service really should be a completely different experience from what people are used to. Yom Kippur should still be in the bones of all synagogue participants. Its spirit should still be felt with every prayer. It should be completely impossible for synagogue services to return to their old ways, in which prayers are said as if “nothing happened.”
What is holiness? It has something to do with the constant awareness that God is to be discovered in all that one does, speaks, thinks, and feels. But that’s nearly unattainable. How does one live up to this?
Faith is like music. It is true because of its beauty, not because of its intellectual certainty. It stems from impossible paradoxes, as well as a great deal of imagination that surpasses rationality and scientific or historical facts.
Religious experience is not necessarily any more valuable than purely spiritual experience. A vital part of the defining genius of the Jewish tradition is that it produced an intricate set of observances which, together, create an experiential space which is hospitable to spiritual experience and, to an extent, stimulates it.