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Why All the Details in Judaism?

Why All the Details in Judaism?

The details show we really care.


When discussing the laws of Shabbos, people frequently say to me, “I can’t believe that God cares about all those little details.” There’s a grain of truth in what they’re saying. All those details are not for the Almighty; they’re for us. We’re the ones who need them. Why? There are many reasons, but I want to suggest two.

Details demonstrate that we care. When we create a special night for our spouse or our children – a bar mitzvah, a sweet sixteen, a wedding – or even our workplace, we pay attention to the details. We spend time thinking about the invitations, the colors of the linens and which flowers match and which music is just right and on and on and on. Why do we do this?

Sometimes we’re a little obsessive and focus on the details to the exclusion of the meaning, but mostly it’s because we care. We want it to be beautiful for them. We want it to be special for them. Our investment in the event is a demonstration of our caring. And the opposite is also true. If we don’t invest in the event, it is usually a sign that it’s just not that important to us.

In order to reap the full benefits of Shabbos we need to fully invest in it, no matter what your level of observance and commitment is. If I treat Friday like a regular day and just before candle lighting throw some leftovers in the oven and some paper plates on the kitchen table, I haven’t made Shabbos. “Making Shabbos” means creating that space in my home and my life for the Almighty to reside. It means creating the opportunity for me to step back and let Him enter.

That doesn’t happen automatically. That occurs when I have put all the details in place, when I have truly invested in the day, when I have spent time and energy and thought preparing.

Details Matter

My husband and I once stayed at a hotel where the floor was comprised of flowers made out of small mosaic tiles. We had to leave early in the morning and what did we discover? Workers down on their knees fixing every tile that had a chip in it. Because the little details affected the whole picture.

Tragedies in the space program are not usually caused by the engine stalling or some other big component of the shuttle malfunctioning. It’s the little details – a small crack in the O-ring, a tiny piece of insulation. Small details really matter.

Does God care about the details? Yes, because He wants us to care about them.

Look closely at a masterpiece painting and see how it is composed of many small brushstrokes. If we were able to approach the artist – Rembrandt or Monet for example – and ask them, “Did you really need that brushstroke of blue in the bottom left corner or that dab of red in the upper right?” they would be appalled. It’s only through the combination of all those brushstrokes that you get the full beautiful picture, the masterpiece.

It’s only through all the details that we create our own spiritual masterpiece, our Shabbos.

Spirituality, meaning, a relationship with God do not come without investment. We pay for them with our time and effort. A quick high is not a real relationship. We know that from our human relationships. How much more so with the Creator of the world.

We also know that in our human relationships details matter. They demonstrate how important the relationship is to us. By paying attention to their likes and dislikes and trying to accommodate them, we are saying, “You matter to me.” Should we do any less for the Almighty?

Shabbos is an opportunity to connect with God. We are taught that the Almighty rummaged through His treasury and gave us this precious gift. The more we invest in the details, the greater will be our experience of the day and our connection to the Almighty, the more benefits we will reap. It’s actually self-serving to focus on the details!

Does God care about the details? Yes, because He wants us to care about them.

November 12, 2016

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The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 4

(4) jim, November 22, 2016 2:22 AM

big family

like HaShem, very big and detail oriented family, ONE Who cares deeply!

(3) Donny, November 21, 2016 3:07 PM

Not exactly accurate

G-d cares about the details because every detail matters! Does it matter if I am off by one number when trying to call you? Every detail affects our soul! That is why G-d cares! The Torah is the instruction manual for life Of course, every detail matters! Does being off by a 1/1000 millimeter matter in surgery?

(2) Rachel, November 20, 2016 5:41 PM

And what if you can't see the forest for the trees

Shabbat requires candles, wine, and bread. I think it's unfortunate when the focus on the material aspects of Shabbat can seem to outweigh the spiritual ones. The same can be said of overly ornate weddings and bar/bat mitzvah celebrations, and Pesach programs that focus as much on the amenities as on the Yom tov. I'm happy for those who can afford such things, but they should not set the standard for those who don't have the resources

(1) Anonymous, November 17, 2016 12:51 PM

I am working on improving my level of observance

My absolute FAVORITE thing to do on Shabbos is walking. Last Shabbos I walked about a mile to lunch at someone's house. I am also fortunate enough to live very close to Shul. I grew up in a Secular Jewish home, and my level of observance is far from perfect. However, I will get there.

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