Friday, September 30, 2016

Rosh Hashana 2016 message

On this last Shabbat of the year I wish everyone a Shabbat Shalom and Shannah Tovah.
There are just two words  in the pasuk Devarim 30:19 that sum up how we should look at the world -- ובחרת בחיים  (therefore choose life) .  This is a basis  for the Jewish philosophy of free will and human responsibility. People have the power to choose to be righteous and walk in the Divine path or to choose evil. It also means that we have to look toward the future and not be mired in the past.  This contrasts to Freudian psychology which searches for the conflict or problems of the past that cause the current misery or mental illness.  The psychology of tzimtzum or Hasidism in general says that we have to contract from the past and use it as lever to make a better future.
We have both "material" and "spiritual" people in the world. They are both needed to make the world whole.  They are both needed to serve God in this world. It is easy to sit in the Beit Midrash and claim you are religious. The temptations there are minimal compared to the business world where we face the  dealing with customers and vendors every minute of the work day.  One true test of religiosity is have we dealt fairly with our fellow man, and made this world a better place,   not  have we imbued our day-to-day life with ritual.  When we live the mitzvoth and values of Torah it makes a better world than just talking about them.

When our time is finished in this world, God will ask us  if our monetary dealings were conducted faithfully, were we kind and helpful to each other, did we do something in the world that was a a greater Kiddush Hashem then sitting in our chair with blinders. A businessperson, a caring administrator, a dedicated health care profession, a master teacher have opportunities every day to make a difference.

May we merit having and being  leaders who fear God and work toward creating a community that serves God.  May this fear of God bring peace, understanding, respect, and honor to the whole world so that we can all prosper on our road to happiness and prosperity.

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