At our monthly Mensch Night at Chabad Of West Hills we did an exercise where we were asked to define Hashem in five words. Mine were: Everything, All-Powerful, Energy, Infinite and Pure. Not a bad list, and all true, but I wondered whether it would be different if things in my life were different. While I do not blame Hashem for the things in my life that are not as I would like them to be, I do question Him… Sometimes with a WHY?… Sometimes with a WHY NOT? And sometimes with a cry and pleading directed toward the Heavens… As long as this conversation and dialogue continue, that is a good thing. It shows connection and belief, though I would much rather be expressing gratitude and thanks… And this is part of the “paradigm shift” we then discussed, and one I certainly need to have, especially as we move into Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It is too easy to see the bad, the dark the broken… It takes work to see the good, the light and to be truly healed. And yet THIS is truly what Hashem wants for all of us… to connect and be connected with Him.
We also defined what the upcoming holidays mean to us, and many of the answers were somber and serious. And they should be, as this is a deeply reflective and significant period of time for Jews. We talk about Judgement, asking for and giving forgiveness, being inscribed in the Book Of Life and owning all of things we did or did not do. It can be a revealing and depressing endeavor, as owning our own mistakes is not always easy. Too often when we look in the mirror we do not like what we see. Or perhaps we see what we want to see… and not what actually is…Let us change that and let us see the miracle each and every one of us are. Let us all make a big shift in our thoughts of Hashem and the holiday… a paradigm shift. I did not mention that Hashem is loving and supportive. These are essential characteristics of G-d. I did not mention how G-d wants us to succeed and do well, how Hashem is our biggest supporter and cheerleader, how He created this life for us to rise and fill and be fulfilled… How we are here to make a difference. Hashem is fire without destruction, as represented with the burning bush. It was on fire, yet not consumed. We can do the same… we can alight the world without destroying it or ourselves. We can be on fire without diminishing ourselves. A single candle, a single flame can light an infinite number of other candles, other lights, without diminishing itself. This is a powerful and positive concept, and one we need to fully embrace. We must share our kindness, our love and our power!
Hashem is gratitude and humility and those are qualities we need to have as well. Every morning we get to express this with the Modeh Ani. It is a brilliant way to start each and every day, so let the idea and the words also start our New Year.
Yes, we need to own our mistakes and learn from them, but we also need to forgive ourselves and redefine ourselves. We do have that ability. Rosh Hashanah is our chance for a new start.
Apples and honey are sweet, and they remind us that life IS sweet and can be even sweeter. This is what we wish for ourselves and our loved ones as we move into the New Year. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of these things… to look at things differently… Sometimes we need to make a shift… a major paradigm shift, for how we define Hashem and the holidays will give them specific meaning and understanding. Words can make all the difference… And if we find and use different words and notions, that can put us on a very different path, for words and their meanings have immense power.
May we all have a healthy, happy and sweet New Year… to make the changes we need to make… to re-connect with ourselves, our family and friends and Hashem. To use positive words and find the love and joy… and to paradigm shift into a higher gear.