Volume 2 Number 37 – September 28, 2019 – 28 Elul 5779
SHABBOS SHUVAH – the Shabbos between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – was given to Israel as a time for Torah study, prayer, and reflection on repentance. Rabbi Nachum Braverman writes, “On Rosh Hashana we make an accounting of our year and we pray repeatedly for life. How do we justify another year of life? What did we do with the last year? Has it been a time of growth, of insight and of caring for others? Did we make use of our time, or did we squander it? Has it truly been a year of life, or merely one of mindless activity? This is the time for evaluation and rededication.
The Jewish process is called “teshuva,” coming home – recognizing our mistakes between ourselves and G-d as well as between ourselves and our fellow man and then
Mark Your Calendars
- “Women in the Torah” presented by Rebbetzin Chani Smason in the NHBZ Sukkah, open to men and women – Wed., Oct. 16, at 7:15 pm.
- Next Book Club book: “Waking Lions,” by Israeli writer Ayelet Gundar-Goshen – Monday, October 28, 7:15-8:45PM
Wake Up / Elul is Here
A Rosh Hashanah Message from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
Continued from last week, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks outlines ten principles we learn from Judaism designed to bring more meaning, value, and joy to our lives. Below are the final four of the principles
(7) Keep Shabbat. If Shabbat had not been created, someone would have made a fortune discovering and marketing it. Here is a one-day miracle vacation that has the power to strengthen a marriage, celebrate family, make you part of a community, rejoice in what you have rather than worrying about what you don’t yet have, relieve you from the tyranny of smartphones, texts and 24/7 availability,
reduce stress, banish the pressures of work and consumerism, and renew your appetite for life. It is supplied with wine, good food, fine words, great songs and lovely rituals. You don’t need to catch a plane or book in advance. It’s a gift from G-d via Moshe, and for more than 3,000 years it has been the Jewish private island of happiness. To get there all you need is self-control, the ability to say ‘no’ to work, shopping, cars, televisions and phones. But then, everything worth having needs self-control.
(8) Volunteer. Give of your time to others. There is no greater cure for depression than to bring happiness into the lives of others. Visit the sick. Invite someone lonely to your Shabbat or Yom Tov meal. Share your skills with someone who needs to acquire them. Join one of the many outstanding organisations in our community. Hebrew has a beautiful word for such acts: ‘chesed’, meaning love-as-
deed, love-as-kindness. The great Jewish psychotherapist Viktor Frankl used to say, “The door to happiness opens outward,” meaning that feeling low often comes from feeling alone. Bring the gift of your presence to someone else, and you will no longer feel alone.
(9) Create moments of joy. It can be as simple as a walk on a spring day, or watching an internet video of an old song that brings back warm memories, or paying someone an unanticipated compliment, or giving someone a spur-of-themoment gift. There is a place in Judaism for osher/ashrei, “happiness,” but the key positive emotion in the Torah and the Book of Psalms is simcha, “joy.” Ivdo et Hashem besimcha… serve G-d with joy. Happiness often depends on external circumstances but you can experience joy even in tough times. Like sunshine piercing the clouds, joy liberates the spirit and breaks the hold of sadness. Let yourself, in Wordsworth’s words, be “surprised by joy.” Joy means opening your soul to the radiance of life, refusing to let age or time dull your sense of wonder.
(10) Love. Judaism was the world’s first, and is still the greatest, religion of love. Love G-d with all your heart, soul and might. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love the stranger, for you were once strangers. Love is the alchemy that turns life from base metal to gold; that etches our days with the radiance of the Shechinah, the Divine presence. True happiness, whether in marriage or parenthood, friendship or career, is always the product of love. Where love is, there is G-d, for when we love others, G-d’s love flows through us. To live you have to learn to love.
Do any of these things and slowly, gradually, you will begin to notice a change in your life. You will be less pressured, less anxious, less hurried and harried. You will find you have time for the things that are important but not urgent, which are what you most neglect now. The result will be more satisfaction, fulfilment, joy. Your relationships will be better, especially in the home. People will respect you more. You will feel yourself blessed. This may or may not add years to your life, but it will certainly add life to your years. You will then feel to the full extent what it is to be written into G-d’s Book of Life.
I wish you and your families a Shana tova u’metuka. May this year this be
a sweet and blessed one for us all. – from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
For information or to join Sisterhood, call the NHBZ office at 314-991-2100, ext. 3, or email: email@example.com