Today is the day! While we all make resolutions and vows for the New Year, most of them do not start until today. I mean realistically, you cannot make a vow to eat healthier and have it actually begin on January 1st, as you are at a friend or family’s house and sit on the couch snacking and watching football. So this is it.
It’s odd to think that we get to do this twice, on the secular New Year’s Day and during the High Holy Days. But any chance we have to start again… to really strive to be better… to make changes… to do good is a positive step. The key, of course, is follow through.
And for me, the biggest lesson is this… Every day has the ability to be holy… life changing. We can start again at any time, and often, we need to do just that.
So how does Judaism keep us on track? How does Judaism help us get things done? Prayer and Torah study offer so much insight and so many incredible life lessons.
In his important and practical book Taking Action, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin offers a “how-to” on success, from the original motivational experts… the Jewish Sages.
The morning prayers start our day in such an amazing way. We begin with gratitude and thanks for our souls being returned to us, and recognizing all that Hashem is and does. Pliskin offers an additional jump-start to this:
“My Father, my King, Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, bless me with the attributes of happiness and joy, kindness and compassion, courage and confidence, patience and persistence, serenity and inner peace, enthusiasm and joyful Zrizus, harmony with others, and gratitude for all that I could and should be grateful for.”
So we have the motivation. Now we all just need a bit of courage. It takes courage to do and get things done. And keep in mind that courage is not acting without fear… it is, in fact, acting with fear!
“You don’t have to tell your fears anything. All you need to do is take action even though you feel afraid. When you don’t let fear stop you, that is called having courage. Let your new motto be, “I’ll do it anyway.”
The great Ben Folds has a song called “Do It Anyway” and it’s message is so right on, and so fitting for this discussion.
“You might put your love and trust on the line
It’s risky, people love to tear that down
Let ’em try
Do it anyway
Risk it anyway
It’s the standing still that should be scaring you instead
Go on and
Do it anyway
Do it anyway.”
Part of the key is in putting our absolute trust and faith in Hashem. We must fully know and deeply understand that we are not in control, and yet we still have to act… we still have to do. We do have Free Will and we are fully active partners in this thing called life, and in order for it to mean something… to have it be a fulfilled life, we need to take action.
Life can be a challenge. Everyday it seems there is a tragedy or something that can debilitate our minds and souls and minds. Fear abounds…
One of the best things I have ever heard is this:
“You can fear the jump or jump with fear.”