As an American Jew I feel like I get two do overs every year. One for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and then another for New Year’s Eve. Two times I vow to do better… to make my wrongs right… to change, or more accurately to do Teshuva and RETURN to who I really am… to the way my soul is truly supposed to be.
Perhaps that’s greedy… I mean, when you play golf you usually get only ONE Mulligan. And when we played curb ball as kids, same thing… You got one chance to shout DO OVER!
But the more I think about it, the more I realize that two is not nearly enough. Two is cutting myself short and not actually the way it really is or the way Hashem intended it to be. Like science, the deeper we go, the more we understand and the smaller and more numerous elements become… In other words, molecules become atoms, become protons and neutrons, etc… much smaller and in much larger quantities.
For me, it’s actually quite simple… we can start again and return every day. From the moment we wake and realize G-d has granted us, once again, life… we must and should also realize that, that means He has granted us an opportunity to return to our selves and live with our true life’s purpose. This is why we begin each morning with the Modeh Ani, by thanking Hashem for another day of life and another opportunity to do good, to start over… We express thanks and gratitude and humility, and then, hopefully, we seize the day.And to go one step further, we can do this with each and every breath. It simply takes being aware of the miracle that is life and how we (seemingly simply and easily) breathe. And yet, of course, this is an incredibly complex, thing and when you think about it, incredibly miraculous.
At a recent Tefillin breakfast we had, a few of us from the amazing JMI/AISH Israel trip I went on met up to wrap, enjoy some lox and have an early morning L’Chaim. Thanks to the Blinders!
Sadly that morning I learned that my arm strap was broken and needs to be replaced, but I also learned a most amazing lesson/thought. A friend (another Marc) said he heard that when we breathe, it is actually us speaking G-d’s name… YHVH. Yud Hei as we inhale and V— Hei as we exhale.
This was one of those ideas that, no pun intended, blew me away. We are taught that G-d brought the world into existence with words and breath… G-d breathed life into Adam. As we inhale, we are taking in G-d breath… This is how we live… this is how we are sustained. And as we exhale, we are speaking G-d name and sharing our breath and energy and life with the world. We our breath and our course with our minds and hands, we can do so much.
It is easy, at least for me, to have bad days… to forget about the miracles of life, and even my connection with Hashem. But through Judaism and prayer, if I allow myself to truly follow it, I am given ample reminders throughout the day, and given the amazing opportunity to continuously to connect with Hashem.
The Modeh Ani… the very first thing we do
The Morning Prayers, and bringing my head and heart together with Tefillin.
The prayers before and after each meal, and everything I eat or drink, which elevates food into something truly holy. We take something common and something we take for granted, which obviously we should never do, considering the state of the world.
The Afternoon Prayers
The Evening Prayers
And of course, the last thing we do before we give ourselves over to a state close to death as we lay our head down to sleep… we utter the Bedtime Shema, where we once again express gratitude and humility, but also deep forgiveness…The cycle of each and every day allows us to make a New Year’s Resolution, to get to start over, to have Teshuva, and so does the cycle of each and every breath. So as we breathe each breath, let us remember Hashem, remember our God and remember all the good we can do and how we once again, get a DO OVER.
Happy New Year! L’Chaim.