Growing up in Los Angeles had its perks. One less-known benefit was exposure to some of the most spiritual, though not Orthodox, Jewish thinkers. For some, this distinction is sacrilegious, while for others it is legitimate and genuine. I align with the latter view, and reading and learning through this lens has deepened my Judaism.
The Extraordinary Nature of Ordinary Things is written by a deeply spiritual (not Orthodox) Jewish thinker. It speaks to the mind as much as it speaks to the soul. It challenges the reader to look for God in everyday life, in the simple pleasures and in ordinary moments. It challenges us to think about how often we live by Yaakov’s words in Genesis 28:16 “God is in this place and I did not know it.” And it reminds us of the often-quoted chassidic saying, “God is not everywhere, rather God exists where we let God in”.
One of my favorite chapters is “Wise Up” which asks why God would give us the mitzvah of Sukkot and then allow it to rain on sukkot – preventing us from keeping the commandment. Leder writes “Rain on sukkot reminds us that we can do everything right and still suffer tragedy.”
As we spend our days engaged more slowly and more mindfully, let us embrace the opportunity to find more places to let God in.