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one paycheck away

Friday, 26 August, 2022 - 4:22 am

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

This Shabbat is a ‘double-header’.

Its Shabbat.

And its Rosh Chodesh. The ‘head of the month’.

The month of Elul.

One month away from Rosh Hashana.

It’s a month of accounting for the past year.

It’s a month of preparing for the coming year.

Preparing for the future responsibly, requires an honest appraisal of what transpired in the past.

In every business, the owner looks for ‘best practices’ and tries to strengthen them. As well as looking for things that have failed and discontinuing them.

One of the things that can be transformative in our lives and is definitely a ‘best practice’, is being more mindful of the blessings in our lives.

Our Parsha is called ‘Re’eh’ which means ‘see’. As in ‘See, I am placing before you blessing…’. The ‘I’ in the verse is Hashem.

Sometimes, all it takes for us to feel happier and more content, is to open our eyes and see the blessings of G-d.

Do you feel blessed?

Some people when you ask them ‘what do you want to thank Hashem for today’ have trouble coming up with something that they want to give gratitude for.

You may be surprised to hear this. Not to everyone does it come easily to articulate even one thing that they feel thankful for.

Perhaps this below meditation can help.

A statistic I once read has stayed in my consciousness as it sounded quite frightening.

A survey taken in the USA showed that 59% of Americans are one paycheck away from being homeless.

Come to think of it there is something much scarier which we don’t often think about which we don’t need a survey for. We all know it from observing life around us.

We all know that 100% of humans are just one microbial infection, one blood clot, or one malignant cell away from dying.

That is a pretty scary thought that we don’t often like to think about.

So let us NOT think about it. Or rather let us now dwell on it.

Let us think about the fact that 98% of Americans are NOT homeless and (unless you are one of the unfortunate 2%) how thankful we must be that we DO have a home.

The fact is, that if you are reading this, you are alive.

This means that your body with all of its myriad components, is working.

Let us praise Hashem for our physical health. For every breath. For the blood that flows through our veins unimpeded. For the trillions of healthy cells that do their job devotedly.

Let us praise the Master of the Universe for the symmetry in creation.

For all the blessings.

There is no reason to have ‘bad news’ dominate our psyche.

Good news abounds. It just doesn’t make good headlines like crises do.

So next time you are asked, ‘what would you like to thank Hashem for’, think of the trillions of things that are going right in your very own body.

Breath by breath.

Heartbeat by heartbeat.

Our internal digestive system is a huge miracle. There are 100 trillion microbial cells in our gut. Every time we go go the bathroom, we have to be thankful that they are all speaking to each other and cooperating.

The intricate design and cooperation required for opening our eyes in the morning is beyond miraculous.

Think of all the blessings that surround us all that we take for granted.

Make a good resolution to open your eyes and SEE the good that abounds from G-d.

And may G-d bless you to have many more good things to SEE and to give gratitude for.

(For a perspective on the ‘darkness’ and suffering that we witness in the world, click here for an article by Tzvi Freeman on the opening verse of this weeks Parsha’).

The Alter Rebbe in describing the Divine energies that are beamed down to our world in preparation of Rosh Hashana, starting from Rosh Chodesh Elul, describes an analogy involving a king.

Before a king enters his city, its inhabitants go out to greet him and receive him in the field. At that time, anyone who so desires is granted permission [and can] approach him and greet him. He receives them all pleasantly, and shows a smiling countenance to all . . .

During the month of Elul, G-d is analogous to the king in the field. Hashem gives us the gift of being ‘approachable’ before the awesome High Holidays.

The Kabbalists taught that the month of Elul is a month of intense spiritual opportunity where G-d is radiantly accessible to each and every one of us. Just the way we are. Each of us can and should approach Him and put in our ‘pre-Rosh-Hashana’ requests for a Good and Sweet Year!

Shabbat Shalom

Chodesh Tov

Shana Tova

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

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