In honor of Shavuot, which begins tonight…
“Hairs may turn white
The brain may slow
But as long as we keep learning
We will continue to grow.”
I often use secular quotes or lyrics from songs, because they often make an amazing and insightful point. And just as often, there is Judaism in those lyrics, whether the person is Jewish or not. (Yes, that little ditty is mine… and no, it is not any kind of genius…)
Neil Peart from Rush (who is not Jewish) writes amazing lyrics that could have easily come out of teachings from Torah or Pirkei Avos. They are astounding and remarkably powerful.
Today’s lyrics come from the brilliant AND JEWISH composer Stephen Schwartz in his hit musical Wicked and from the song “For Good”:
“I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led to those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today because I knew you
Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better
Because I knew you
I have been changed for good.”
And I have, too. I have been changed for good… in all of the ways that, that amazing phrase means.
Hashem… Judaism… my mentors and teachers and Rabbis… and friends from my Israel trip… Rabbi Shlomo Seidenfeld, Julian and thus Rabbi Avi Rabin, too. Jonah… and thus Ben… and Rabbi Denbo, David Sacks and Saul Blinkoff…
They all came into my life for a reason! And they have all taught me so much… with wisdom and patience and love!
As I study and deeply connect to the religion I used to only identify with as a culture… and a holiday or two… and something I was born into… I find a most profound way to connect and live and love. I see a higher purpose and a path to a more fulfilled life.
There’s an app for that. Well, yes there is… and when it comes to an Omer Counter, I love the app from Chabad.org.
Each night you are reminded to count, given the prayer, and once read, given the ability to check the night off and track your progress… and a Meditation for the day. Most of them seem to come from the “wisdom of the Lubavitcher Rebbe (ORM), words and condensation by Rabbi Tzvi Freeman.”
They are all quite wonderful, but there are always a few that floor me. Day 36 was the kicker… the most potent, specific, personal and powerful for me thus far. And it could not come at a more appropriate time, given the daily and nightly news and all the craziness in this world…
DAY 36 (Chesed ShebeYesod)
“The world around you is in shambles—and you are probably no exception. The chasm between what you should be and what you actually are is so vast, you cannot see yourself changing anything.
That’s His job. Your job is to think good thoughts. Your job is to do good deeds.
He will make a bridge from your thoughts to your deeds and together they will become the most powerful instrument of change in the world.”
Think good thoughts… a simple and powerful notion, but not always so easy to fulfill. There are so many distractions around us… so many tests…
Always do the right thing… Not just sometimes or even most of the time… but always… every time. Easy? Heck no… but what a way to live… what a way to be.
“What makes me think I could start clean slated?
The hardest to learn was the least complicated.” (Indigo Girls, “Least Complicated”)
So let us all share in this amazing, powerful and potentially life-changing teaching…
Our job is to think good thoughts. Our job is to do good deeds.
Think good, be good, do good… For one good deed CAN TRULY CHANGE THE WORLD!
And then we will ALL be changed… FOR GOOD!