Contrary to most people's understanding of Judaism, the Torah's philosophy includes physical pleasures: that is, any experience that a person enjoys with one of the five senses. Either you smell it, touch it, taste it, see it, or hear it. Judaism views physical pleasure as central to living a good life. Hashem made a physical world not to frustrate us, but for us to enjoy. In fact, the tradition considers it a moral obligation to enjoy life's physical pleasures. For instance, consider the very first mitzvah of the Torah. What is the Torah's first mitzvah? It is not "Be fruitful and multiply." Nor is it "Do not eat from the tree of knowledge." Upon a close reading, the text plainly states that the very first mitzvah is"From every tree of the garden you must eat." However, the foundation of pleasure and the basis of Jewish spirituality is the discipline of mental control, of focusing the mind at will. To develop such a discipline requires a systematic development of mental focus, also known as meditation. This is the Art of Kavanah.
About the AuthorAlexander Seinfeld has two degrees from Stanford University and is an ordained rabbi. He founded Jewish Spiritual Literacy, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the ideas in this book.
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