(U.S. Air Force photo/Lance Cheung)
There are countless points during a man’s life when he is compelled to choose between doing what is right for himself and what is right for others – family, friends, the people you love, your community, your country, and sometimes complete strangers. The correct choice, almost without exception, is to choose what is right for others.
Almost without exception.
R. Hillel famously wrote “if I am not for myself who will be for me. And if I am only for myself, what am I?”
The essence of wisdom is being able to recognize the exception and knowing without a doubt that the choice for oneself is not glandular or rationalized, but true to a code that transcends both our petty desires and our ability to manipulate them.
A few lessons I took from Yom Kippur this year.
- Teshuvah begins with forgiving everyone else for being imperfect.
- You can’t have true teshuvah without approaching life with a feeling of gratitude. That’s actually a core tenet of success, and opens the road to humility.
- My problem is pride. The antidote is reflection, gratitude, humility, and study.
- I have allowed my relationship with Hashem to whither a bit. That is the true source of my discontent.
Now if only I can keep those in mind over the next year.
The call of the shofar
HBH”C Ploni ben Nistar
A beautiful post that captures the essence of why we blow the Shofar at this season.
I have heard a number of shiurim and D’varim about this topic, but this one stands near the top.
Happy Elul. May your days be filled with contemplation, wonder, and a love of Hashem.
Even if Halachah denies that I am a Jew, how dare I let that stifle the yearning in my soul for Hashem and Torah! These Halachah are not meant as a barbed wire fence around Torah, but a way to keep bais Yisrael Holy.
Sorry, I need to remind myself of this occasionally.