Religious Life

Bringing God to Work – A Weekly Letter From Rabbi Alexander Davis – December 14, 2018

Shalom Chaverim,

Recently, I was visiting a patient at Fairview University Hospital. Walking to the main entrance, I looked up at a new wing of the hospital under construction and was immediately struck by what I saw. Spray painted on one of the beams was a simple message of hope and strength from the metal workers: “Get well soon.” 

What a lovely gesture. Clearly the people who painted the message understood that they are not just building a building. They are creating infrastructure for people to heal. This is an example of seeing work from a broader, spiritual perspective.

In his book, Being God’s Partner: How to Find the Hidden Link Between Spirituality and Your Work, Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin laments that too often we keep religion insulated from the rest of our lives. We fall into the trap of confining Judaism to religious practice. But the Torah is meant to be integrated into all of life. Bringing our faith to work has the potential to make us more enthusiastic, more creative, socially responsible in our work, and inspire us to act on the basis of our moral impulses and values.

Salkin tells the story of when he was moving. The boss of his moving crew was a gentleman. He was so passionate about his work that Salkin asked him the source of his enthusiasm. “Well you see,” he answered, “I’m a religious man and my work is part of my religious mission.” “What do you mean?” Salkin asked. “It’s like this: Moving is hard for most people. It’s a very vulnerable time for them. They are nervous about going to a new community and about having strangers pack their most precious possessions. So, I think God wants me to treat my customers with love to make them feel that I care about the things in their life. God wants me to help make their changes go smoothly. If I can be happy about it, maybe they can be too.”

In the Torah we are commanded, “Six days shall you work.” Not only is Shabbat a mitzvah, so is work. Let us strive to become God’s partner in our daily lives that our week of work is as holy as our day of rest.

Rabbi Alexander Davis