The Best Of 2017… Bringing It Into 2018 – By Marc

Time flies…whether you’re having fun or not. It really does.

While we function on the Jewish New Year, we also recognize the end of the year and the beginning of the New Year in secular terms.  Hard to imagine it is already 2018, and all that means for me personally. The year of the Chai will put my only child in college, a life changing event for all.

As I work on my “Best Of” lists… albums and movies… and struggle to see as much as I can in a very short window (The Post was fantastic and not just because it eerily shadows where we are today), I am also reminded of the many wonderful Jewish teachings and lessons I have received over this year.

I thank Rabbi Shlomo Seidenfeld and Rabbi Avi Rabin, for their kindness, friendship and strong life lessons. Howard Witkin for his Pirkei Avos class and for always looking out for me. JMI, Aish and Chabad, for opening my mind and for always opening their doors. My friend Jason Katz and the wonderful lessons and discussions we need to get back to through Partners In Torah. Julian Maiman for opening up his home and for the challenging and deep thought-provoking debates. Saul, and everyone else who I have sat and learned with. And a special thanks to Ben, whose posts here I enjoy as much as everyone else, and who always shares wisdom and insight.

The end of the year has posed many challenges to both myself, and family and friends. Major health issues have come up, and while my own seem to be treatable and handled with medicines, it put me in a bit of a tail spin. When one truly sees their own mortality, it can be daunting. But I am hoping it is the literal wake up call I need. Reality is an easy thing to ignore or push to the side, but to deny where we are physically and mentally is the very opposite of present moment awareness and mindfulness, both essential elements to good health and a fulfilled life.

Both of these very popular and “contemporary” notions have strong foundations in Judaism, another lesson that brought me great comfort, connection and spirituality.

This leads me to a lesson Shlomo taught a while ago, and one I have referred to often, but that has a much stronger resonance these days…
“We all have two lives. The second one begins when we realize we only have one.”

Sadly and too often it takes a catastrophe or gut punch to learn this lesson. The sooner you get it, the better off you will be… but it is one that has power any time it truly hits and becomes alive for you.

The second, is another Shlomo gem from a while ago, that I share often… on here and in person. Ironically, a friend of mine just happened to post it today on FB saying she had learned it from her grandfather and mother. It is equally important as it seems to be the very basis for faith and prayer… more lessons I desperately need at this particular time.
“There are three answers to every prayer: Yes, Not Yet, I Have Something Better In Mind.”

Hashem never says “no” but clearly we need strong faith to understand that He is always looking out for us. Sometimes it is too easy to question… to get angry… to yell and scream at the Heavens… And it takes distance and time to see the lesson… to fully grasp it.

An apparent blessing can be a curse. Something we begged and pleaded for, that we thought we needed can be quite the opposite. And just as often, a curse can turn out to be a blessing. We just don’t know… yet. It takes distance and perspective… and sometimes we may not get to know, which takes even more trust and faith. But Hashem knows!

If we can truly live and embody these two concepts going into the New Year, I know we’d be so much better off… well, I know I WOULD BE!

It’s funny, I actually caught myself the other day praying for a specific college for my daughter to get into. I literally stopped myself from asking for it out loud, I said “No”… that’s not what I want… and changed it. I prayed for her to get into where she was supposed to go… where Hashem, who knows much more than I do, wants her to be. What I want, while thoughtful and thought out, might not be right. I put my trust in the Higher Power!

That was a hugely significant moment for me… one where I completely let go of my own thoughts and notions and gave in to the power of G-d. I connected with Hashem and put full trust in Him, and one of His answers to my prayers.

May I… and all of us…continue on this path in the New Year… where faith and trust reign supreme… where our efforts to live a full and fulfilled life are strong and focused… where we work hard and do all we can, but where we also know that Hashem is looking out for us… Hashem is One!

Here’s to amazing health and happiness and all that we are supposed to have.

L’Chaim!

For my Dad… Beth, Matt, Daniel… and all my family and friends who need healing.

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