Sunday, September 6, 2009

Thought as We Approach 5770

Greetings from the Land of Israel!
As I write these words, I find it hard to believe that Rosh Hashana is right around the corner. While in most years, I would be furiously preparing sermons for the Yamim Noraim (and I will be giving one here in Maale Adumim this year), I find the respite from that activity allows me to reflect a little more than usual about this past year and the upcoming one as well.

On a personal level, this has been one of the most interesting, exciting, challenging and physically-taxing of my entire life. At the same time, all of these adjectives spelled one word: ALIYA. The opportunity to realize one's life-long dream to move to Israel and to have (Bli Ayin Hara) such a wonderful first-two-months' experience, has been a TRUE bracha from Hashem.

It is this thought that I sit and ponder as we enter the final phase of 5769 and reach (IYH) 5770. Dreams are a funny thing...they allow you to imagine what COULD be and what life MIGHT be like. They enable you to think big and to have a vision. Sometimes, those dreams are about money; sometimes they are about family issues; sometimes they are about the big picture called "LIFE." But all dreams have a common, underlying theme: They are the deepest desires (sometimes unattainable) of the soul. They are the windows to who you are as a person and who you wish to become.

And the truth is that dreams can also be a motivating factor at this time of year, as we approach Rosh Hashana. Are there things I wish I had done differently this past year...of course! Did I make mistakes? Certainly! Do I wish to make changes as I approach the New Year...Undoubtedly!

But, how does one begin to make such changes? If you think about almost any MAJOR accomplishment in your life, more than likely it was preceded by a was almost driven by a dream or a vision. And the same can be true when it comes to personal change, Teshuva or whatever other category you wish to place the human drive to self-improvement.

So, as we bid farewell to 5769 and get ready to greet 5770, dream a little...better yet...dream A LOT! Think about what it would be like to live life as an EVED HASHEM (a servant of Hashem). Dream about what it would be like to do more Mitzvot and what it would be like to do the Mitzvot with greater purpose and intent. Dream about what it would be like to have a better relationship with your spouse, your parents, your kids, your friends, etc. Dream about what it would be like to have a better parnasa and to be even happier than you may be right now.

But, one also must be mindful of the fact that the Hebrew word for dream, HALOM, has the same three letter root as another word: LOHEM, meaning "to do battle." It is not enough to dream! One must also struggle and "fight" to accomplish one's dreams. They do not just materialize. They require nurturing and work.

But the payoff is that you CAN help those dreams come true! Teshuva, Tefilla and Tzedaka...all of them lend themselves to dreaming as well! Dream of doing a PROPER and a SOLID teshuva this year! Dream of being able to give MORE Tzedaka this year! And dream about being able to change your Tefilla, prayer, that it will be more meaningful to you this year!

Yes, dreams can and DO come true. But you need to go beyond dreaming and move to action. As we approach the year of "TAV SHIN AYIN" (5770), may the letters represent "T'hey Shnat Aliya," may this year be the year of UPLIFTING and growth. Aliya not only means moving to Israel. It really just means "going up." May this year be the year that you "go up" and grow in terms of both ruchniut and in terms of gashmiut (spiritual and physical growth). But remember, much of that growth requires both dreaming and taking action.

May Hashem bless each and every one of you with a year of health, happiness and parnassa and may this indeed be the year in which we ALL make Aliya with the coming of Mashiach ben David.
With best wishes for a Shana Tova and a Chag Sameach!

A Yahrzeit and a Seudah Shlisheet

This last couple of days have been quite busy! On Friday, another first for me in Israel...I was invited on Friday morning to participate in a Siyum commemorating the first Yahrzeit of Gideon Ariel's father (the Neshama should have an aliya). It was significant for ME for two reasons...first, it was special to be involved in learning l'zecher nishmat of a fellow Jew. At the same time, I was sitting there thinking back to one evening, three years ago.

I had been here in Maale Adumim for the very first time. I was with a group, and we came here for a visit as part of our itinerary. Little did I know how it would change my life. We sat in the Iriya (the municipal building) and heard a briefing about the community, what it had to offer, the services etc, etc., and I was listening very carefully. The speaker indeed had given me a VERY clear picture of what it meant to live in Maale Adumim in general and in the Mitzpe Nevo neighborhood in particular. Needless to say, I was enthralled instantly at the prospect of living in this area.

The speaker was Gideon Ariel, the very same individual with whom I sat to learn in memory of his father, so that his father's neshama should have an ALIYA. I thought about that duality, and it made me smile. He was a link in MY aliya and now he was a link in the aliya of his father's neshama!

Shabbat afternoon, there was a community-wide Seudah Shlisheet for all the new Olim in the area. There must have been 150 people at the Seudah, and it was MAGNIFICENT! People were so welcoming and so outgoing to all of the new Olim. I had the opportunity to give a Dvar Torah (in the lingua franca) about all of us who made Aliya recently. The Rav, Rabbi Elisha Aviner spoke and there were introductions made all around by each family. It was such a welcome and welcoming Seudah Shlisheet!

Now, it is Sunday and back to work...I truly enjoy the fact that Sunday is a "regular" day here. The one thing Israel does not have this weekend: Labor Day Sales...

Shavua Tov!