During the summer, I was chatting with a friend of mine. While he is no longer religious – he told me that when he was looking at the calendar to make his schedule, he saw that Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur were coming up and instinctively he got chills about the upcoming days of awe.
This friend of mine was raised in a very different kind of community than I was – a lot stricter – and people in his community view the high holidays through a lens of fear and trepidation. Nonetheless I thought it was pretty cool that even though this man didn’t go to Shul or pray – he still felt the awesomeness of this time of year.
Well, we are back to the daily grind. Back to school, back to work – back to exercise and normal meals (thank G-d!) … but before the month of Tishrei becomes a thing too much in the past, I wanted to go over a few ideas of how to take the inspiration with us.
The whole point of this month is to wipe the slates clean, start fresh and begin anew. We apologize for our past misdeeds – and once we do the hard work we then celebrate with joy and elation the holiday of Sukkos and SImchas Torah. We know that we have done all we can – that this will indeed be an incredible year, and we have faith that G-d will do his part as well. And so we dance!
How do we bottle up the holiness and joy we felt during his month and take it with us throughout the year?
In my opinion, in order to capitalize on the energy we need to look at the month slightly differently.
Just as I stated before, we usually look at the holidays exactly as they are.
Rosh HsShana: we crown G-d as our king
Yom Kippur: we atone for our sins, and G-d seals our fate for the upcoming year
Sukkos: a time of joy and celebration
And Simchas Torah: we celebrate the Torah – the foundation of the Jewish people’s lives.
Simple enough right?
Except there’s one thing missing.
Very often we talk that Yom Kippur we cry and we fast and we beg forgiveness. But not a minute after Yom Kippur ends – we’re already “accidentally” sinning again. Whatever it may be … maybe we didn’t make a blessing on the food… we’re back to “screw up ville” back to square one.
Time to Tap Into Our Potential!
So I think, instead of looking at Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur as days of forgiveness and wiping the slate clean and promising to do better in the future, I think we need to see it as a time to realize our potential. We are incredible people. As humans we have the power to do miraculous things. One little person – with a little passion – and a little ambition – (and creativity) we can move mountains! But what happens – we come to Yom Kippur and we realize we’re nothing but a screw up. We “effed” up in not so pretty language.
Rabbi Tzvi Freeman at Chabad.org gave a beautiful sermon how the whole repentance thing is way too depressing for our generation. It’s too easy to get depressed by our shortcomings. This is brilliant!
Instead of repenting or atoning, or whatever fancy shmancy word you want to use – instead – let’s look inside of ourselves and realize that there is so much untapped potential – that needs tapping! (who wouldn’t want to tap that?
Doesn’t that sound a lot more fun and joyful than the depressing thought of repentance?!
So when we stood before G-d with our fate in His hands – we should be overjoyed and excited and incredibly moved that here we have a NEW year upon us… a NEW opportunity… a BRAND new chance to utilize our awesome talents…. Our beautiful G-d given talents and our own personal brilliance to make a difference. Whatever that means to each of us individually…. But we now get to say:
“From this point on, I’m gonna ROCK the Shiznit!” (yes, Shiznit is a word). And start the new year believing that this year is going to be different. This year is going to be better. And this year is going to be THE year.
With this attitude – the attitude that we are going to be the “best possibly me” – we can look at how to practically bring that inspiration into our day to day lives.
1) My Favorite Thing to Do – you guessed it: MAKE A FREAKIN LIST!!!! Decide: What do I want to be better at this year? What do I want to do this year? What do I want to change? It can be 2 things. Or it can be one thing. It can be a goal, or an activity, something you want to start (or stop) doing. Something maybe that’s holding you back from being the Best That You Can Be. – write it down!
2) Meditate: I know – you’re probably sick of hearing me talk about meditation. But the fact is that Yom Tov ends – and we are thrown back into our lives. The 9-5 workday, the screaming kids, the overcrowded schedules. It’s too easy to forget what we felt on Yom Tov – and how we wanted THIS year to be better. By meditating on our goals and aspirations and our “List” – it helps to bring us back and center us what we want to accomplish.
3) Take a Little Time to Talk To G-d. I was considering putting this as the same thing as meditating, but I really feel its 2 separate things. When we meditate, it’s internally. Its focusing in what’s going on inside (and yes, G-d is there too) – however, with prayer – it’s a vocalized externally. We are talking outwardly to G-d… and continuing that connection we felt so tangibly during all those days of Yom Tov.
4) Pick a Friend. Sounds easy right? In order to be the better you – you need the right kind of friend who will bring out the best in you and build you up. There is a girl I know, she is much younger than me (she was actually my camper at one point) in recent years, whenever I chance a conversation with her she has this knack of inspiring me about my projects that I just want to jump in get working!!! I can’t explain what it is about this one girl, but every time I speak to her she encourages me in my work and makes me feel so enthusiastic about it all.
While there are many types of friendships, in order to accomplish your goal you want to make sure you’re surrounded by the right kind of people.
5) Monthly Assessment Meeting. To bring the inspiration of Tishrei into our day to day lives, nothing says practicality more than the accountability of a monthly meeting. Looking back on “where am I holding?” and “what do I want to focus on in the coming month?”
Do you have any tips of ways to keep an inspirational feeling last? I would love to hear YOUR ideas!!!!