The ability to remain firm in our beliefs, even in the face of hardship and danger, indicates that we have fully internalized the level of holiness to which our soul aspires. According to the degree by which we have assimilated this level, we will find within ourselves the inner strength to withstand the challenges of the turbulent sea that rages around us.
Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaKohen Kook
Sean Maloney in 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Though not what one might term a “Jewish Scholar,” Sean Maloney is a remarkable man. Leaving aside his meteoric career with Intel, he has also survived – and recovered from – a catastrophic stroke that pulled the plug on a large part of his left frontal lobe.
He offers three lessons that ring so Talmudic that they should be offered here:
- Pick the one thing that has the biggest impact. Don’t squander a minute.
- Fight for what you believe in. Never stop listening.
- Laugh, because you don’t know how long it is going to last.
I cannot imagine Akiva or Hillel (or even Shammai) arguing with any of those.
Under my Kittel during Yom Kippur I wore comfortable clothes: blue jeans, non-leather tennis shoes, thick socks, and an oversized polo shirt.
I learned my lesson the hard way: teshuvah, Chabad-style, is work. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausting, it is a process for which a coat, tie, and slacks are unsuited (no pun intended.) A nice suit may show respect for the holiday, but more functional attire, IMHO, shows determination, focus, and commitment.
Or so I told myself.
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 frustrating thing is that those who are attacking religion claim they are doing it in the name of tolerance. Question: Isn’t the real truth that they are intolerant of religion?”
– Ronald Reagan, August 23, 1984
There is no more excuse for irreligious intolerance than there is for religious intolerance.
I’m willing to say “live and let live.”