Friday, September 17, 2010

Ten Questions for Ten Days: Parts #9-10

Sorry this is coming so late in the day.  I was swamped at work.

Question # 9 - What small step can I take to begin meaningful change?
Are you starting to feel as though these questions are like therapy-lite?  Where is the Judaism in all of these questions?

Well, Judaism is a religion of action.  Intent is very important too, don't get me wrong, but if you think about it, a lot of Judaism centers around activities and experiences.  You light the candles, you shake the lulav, you immerse in the mikvah, you say out loud a loud, you communicate nicely with your spouse.  Having the right intent gets you halfway there, but you need to act on that intent to make it count.

What Judaism actually cares about, and this is something that the Chabad movement emphasizes very well, is that any positive step counts.  Can't take on all of the observances related to Shabbat cold turkey?  Start by not watching tv while you eat dinner on Friday night.  Can't dive into keeping kosher with a cannonball dive?  Try not eating crabcakes for a week, and reassess afterwards.  Can't totally stop yourself from criticizing your spouse?  Try having a critisicm-free hour.

Every little step counts.  What will your little step be?

Questions #10 - What can I do for my people and the Land of Israel?
We are a unique people.  The Jewish people are a communal people; no matter where you go in the world, if you are in a foreign not knowing a single soul and you walk into a kosher restaurant/synagogue/Jewish center, you will be welcomed with open arms, offered recommendations, invited to people's homes for meals, and more (I know because it's happened to me).  Everything that happens to Jews in one part of the world affects the rest of the world Jewish population.

So given all of this introspection and self-reflection, the final questions asks you what kind of role YOUR link in the Jewish chain of history and peoplehood will play.  What kind of impact will you have on all of us?  How will you defend and support Israel?  How will you stand up to anti-Semitism?  How will you ensure the continuity of the Jewish people?  How will you teach your children?

(all ideas taken from this article by Rabbi Benjamin Blech)

Yom Kippur 5771: the day you begin the rest of your life.

I wish everyone an easy and meaningful fast and a new year filled with love, good health, and (to paraphrase a toast in Georgia, the country) may your needs and wants coincide, always.

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