I read this in last weeks L’Chaim weekly, I thought it read very much like something I would blog about.
If you have a computer, you’re familiar with the term. Updates come in all sizes and shapes, for all programs and operating systems. Some updates are enhancements (whatever they mean by that), some add new features, some fix bugs, some make the program compatible with an update someplace else – an update to the operating system or another program.
Some updates stop viruses. Some are so radical it’s like getting a whole new program.
Some updates you don’t have much choice about. Some you really need to download and install. Some are a matter of preference. But they’re always there. Isn’t it nice to know that the friendly programmers are always trying to make their programs better, more efficient, more productive, more user-friendly?
Just as our software needs an occasional update, so do our souls. Sometimes we only need a minor upgrade. Sometimes our spiritual “operating system” has gotten too complicated, runs too slow, or has too many bugs in it. When that is the case, we need a major update. Sometimes we’re ready to enhance our spiritual performance, add new features, new mitzvot – commandments.
There are times and seasons and events that signal an update is needed: Big ones are life-changing events, of course, like a Bar or Bat Mitzvah or a wedding. At these times the spiritual operating system gets an update – our Jewish involvement and observance increases in quality as well as quantity.
Other update times are also pre-set. Each Jewish holiday bring with it a modification in our understanding, in the efficiency of how we operate spiritually. On Chanuka a “bug” is fixed, on Passover we add a “new feature.” Each holiday focuses on a particular aspect or function of the program; the next year, when that holiday arrives, there’s an enhancement to that function, a new feature to Shavuot – an insight we’ve gained, some enhanced appreciation, some deeper involvement.
And of course, there’s the regularly scheduled weekly maintenance update – Shabbat.
Other times, we update ourselves by increasing our Jewish knowledge: attending a Torah class, studying on-line, on the phone (jnet.org), or from a book. Or we start giving tzedaka (charity) regularly by putting a few coins in the tzedaka box daily or making sure to support Jewish causes. When asked why, we often don’t know where the impetus came from. But of course it’s really our internal, spiritual operating system connecting to the “main server” and automatically downloading updates.
Whatever the reason for the spiritual update – fixing a bug, making our “software” more efficient (doing a mitzva with more care, more attention to detail), adding a feature (taking on an extra mitzva), or enhancing functions (increasing our Torah learning, in a class or online), etc. – it’s important to regularly update our spiritual software.