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Spiritual Guidance:

Value from our faith requires daily practice

February 16, 2008|By MARK MILLER

Lawrence of Arabia once brought Bedouin youths to New York as part of a tour to win Western appreciation for the Arab cause.

When they were about to depart the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, Lawrence noticed a suspicious heaviness to the Bedouin’s luggage.

Upon opening the suitcases, he saw they contained the gold faucets from the sinks of their bathrooms.

The Bedouin explained the theft by appealing to Lawrence’s sympathy for their plight: “We have seen that when the faucet is turned, water pours forth! When we are home and in need of water for our flocks and herds, these faucets will be invaluable!”

Lawrence reproved them: “For a faucet to spout water it must be connected to pipes that, in turn, must be connected to a reservoir. By themselves, these faucets are useless!”

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For religion to be of value it cannot be of the “faucet” variety. A genuine and beneficial faith is one connected to deep reservoirs of spirituality.

When our faith does not avail because it is expressed sporadically, because we are undisciplined in its exercise, because we turn our devotion on and off depending on the circumstance of the hour, we conclude that our faith has failed us. Rather, it is we who have failed our faith and its demand for daily connectivity.

The word “religion” is derived from the Latin “ligio,” a union or bond, with the “re” prefix serving as an intensive.

For our religion to thrive — commanding us, serving us, obligating us, and succoring us — it must be attached to deep, refreshing, purifying, and nourishing waters of the spirit.

It is not by the wrist that periodically turns the faucet, but by a heart that continually turns to God that our spirit is cleansed and our thirst is slaked.


MARK S. MILLER is the rabbi at Temple Bat Yahm in Newport Beach.

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