Like so many of us, I rush around during the year going through the motions and accepting the distractions but not always focusing on those things closest to my heart. Often, we don’t take the time to think things through but race through life, not fully understanding or appreciating what it takes to be present. As I prepare for the holiday and during this period of Elul, my focus is on how I can enhance my life to be more present for my family and loved ones.
Before the Chagim start I try to find time to examine my actions and how they have affected those that I love and care for, and the impact on my surroundings. Have I been kind to my husband, family and loved ones? Have I served my community and performed the mitzvot I promised to do when I was a Bar Mitzvah. I try to live my life focused on Gemilut Chasadim (acts of loving kindness) while practicing Tikun Olam (repairing the world). When I help others , I know that my impact expands beyond that moment. Is there such a thing as a half a mitzvah? Listening deeply to others while performing a mitzvah makes our giving a true gift.
So, as I reflect on the past year, I wonder if I have been present in everything I do with my heart and soul, or are there times when I just go through the motions? To be more present what do I have to do differently? Perhaps allow less distractions from events that don’t bring me satisfaction which would allow more focus on the task at hand.
One of the traditions during Elul is to visit a loved one’s grave and honor their memory. As I plan to visit my dad’s grave, I want to walk away remembering what he taught me and I how I can honor his life throughout the year ahead. My dad was dedicated to social action before we knew what it meant in the late 50’s, when he was one of the few white kids to share his high school locker with a black teen. My dad felt it was important to make a difference in everyone’s life with whom he had contact. Each of us needs to ask ourselves what we are doing to touch a friend or a stranger’s life to make the world better for all.
So, as we welcome 5783 let’s try to touch a few lives every week. May we all be inscribed in the Book of Life for a healthy and meaningful year full of purpose and joy.
Temple Chai President