Can Spirituality be Immoral?
Can spirituality ever be immoral? Considering the all-too-common occurrence of spiritualists getting caught in scandalous activities, some might answer with a resounding yes. But the better answer is that spirituality can be immoral, because being spiritual is not the same as being G-dly. This is because spirituality is not necessarily the Divine will.
Spirituality is a human impulse. It is a realm of human activity that satisfies a very primal human need in the same manner as do physical needs. Just as we have physical appetites, we also have spiritual ones. In the same way a person can be physically gluttonous, a person can be a spiritual glutton as well.
Spirituality can be motivated by self-interest. Therefore, in some cases the desire to go to Heaven can be selfish and immoral despite the fact that this desire is an ‘other-worldly’ or spiritual one.
In fact, a person can become so spiritual that he or she takes no interest in the physical and decides to forego all responsibilities to it. This is immoral. If you refuse to help someone begging for food, because you are so spiritual that you think human beings should transcend all physical needs, you are immoral.
A spiritual person can also fall victim to applying this mistaken philosophy to oneself by neglecting one’s own physical needs and not taking proper care of one’s health and wellbeing. This doesn’t make him/her a better person.
The Torah teaches us to give away at least 10% of our income to charity. At maximum, we are permitted to give away 20%, but no more than that. Why? It is not simply because we need some money left over to take care of our needs. The Torah is not saying: ‘Be realistic and responsible. You still need some money. After all, you need to also take care of yourself.’
No, the Torah is teaching us something far more profound. We’re not only obligated to give away our money. We also have the obligation to use our money morally in our own lives. This means we need to use our money to make our environment and our surroundings G-dly. The Torah obligates us to use our money, our possessions and all of G-d’s gifts to make sure our home, our furniture, our clothing, and every facet of our lives becomes part of our G-dliness.
So, to give away all of your money would mean you’re only using your money in one direction. Of course, giving your money away is a good and holy thing to do. Charity is a great mitzvah. But it is not the only mitzvah.
You can use your money in G-dly way by giving it to charity, but you can also use your money in a G-dly way by creating a G-dly lifestyle. This involves a building a home, getting married, raising children, buying clothing and other such things.
Involvement in the physical need not be a selfish endeavor. This too is part of our moral obligation.