Thursday, September 28, 2017

Monthly Reminder

In yesterday's post, I wrote this as one of the items on the checklist: "Did you pay attention to the monthly reminders? If not, why not?"

In case you were wondering, it's simple. "Renew/Make new commitment to grow" is now a monthly reminder in my Google Calendar.

I don't know if that's the right approach. I don't know if it needs more than that, like an inspirational posuk or quote to bring me back to a place of growth. I don't know what my reaction will be, or where I'll be at the moment that the notification goes off, but it's a start.

I'm hoping the "If not, why not?" isn't relevant in a year's time, but if none of the notifications in the next year work, I'll have the in-my-face reminder to try something different so that it does.

I'll play it by ear from there.

The Clout of a Compliment

Someone told me recently that if we knew all the details, good and bad, about a person before we got a chance to to know them, we'd never want to get to know anyone. That got me thinking about what I know about people in my life, the good and the bad, and what it means if so little bad is known. It also got me thinking of how people perceive me.

Today, I stumbled across the following:

I immediately loved it. My reaction after "this is so me," was, "this is so everyone!!" At least, in my experience it is. But that's a conversation for a different time, as is the first paragraph. Moving on...

A long time ago, I wrote here about what a compliment can do. I've never forgotten it. I was emailed by a reader asking if her sister could use that post in a graduation speech.

It happened again today.

A friend of mine used to take me with him to a friend's house for Shabbos. I became friendly with said person and have helped him out with a couple of things over the years. So we have each others' numbers. He saw my status. And replied.

"That's still a huge smile"

As big as my smile generally is, I'm not sure he's ever seen me smile the way I did when I read that.

Compliment someone today and every day.

You never know how it could change a person's day, week, or life.

Elul/Rosh Hashana Checklist

Over the past few days, I've started writing a number of thoughts on the Aseres Y'mei Teshuva. They're in various stages of completion, and most, if not all of them, will not be posted before Yom Kippur. Of course, because we're in the days of Aseres Y'mei Teshuva now is why I'm thinking and writing about it so much. But just imagine if we could consider these days all year round. 

So, I'll b"eH continue working on them and post them when they're ready to go. With the amount of posts I've started (on this topic there's a work in progress as well), and will undoubtedly start, it might take until next Elul to get posted. For that, we'll have to wait and see. 

But, I did say that I wanted to add a link to my calendar of a checklist of things to remember come next Elul. I'm not sure it's finished, but it's a start. I may come back and edit this. 

FYI, the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul next year is September 11th. I dare say it would be apropos for these days to coincide every year. 

Here it is. 
  • Rosh Hashana is for a full year, not a few weeks or months. Mistake and failures didn't just happen in the past few days and weeks. 
  • Remember the positive things you've accomplished during the year, both ruchnius and gashmius.
  • Did you pay attention to the monthly reminders? If not, why not? 
  • Gut reaction: Are you closer to Hashem this year than last? 
  • Did you maintain your commitments to change/grow? If not, were they too big or too hard? 
  • Rosh Hashana is in a month. Time to get to work. 
  • Add a 5-10 minute seder for the month. 
  • Choose Jewish music/lyrics that's conducive to growth to listen to. 
  • Review cheshbon hanefesh post: (do it more than once!) 
  • Be mamlich Hashem. Recognize that everything good and bad is from Hashem. And there's a reason for it. For the good.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Distracted Connection

I wasn't planning on writing up any of the Shabbos Shuva drasha I heard this past Shabbos, but after some hashgacha pratis, I figured I should. If someone else can get something out of it, awesome.

The speech was from Rabbi Feiner of the White Shul in Far Rockaway. He's a brilliant man, and brilliant speaker. I'm not much of a speech-goer or listener (I only went because 2 hostesses independently told me that he's worth going to), but I could listen to him for hours. He weaves Jewish and secular stories and thoughts into his points and ideas like no one I've ever heard.

The topic was tefillah, specifically respect for tefillah. He talked about the way we dress for tefillah, the power of tefillah, how far removed we are from having the right respect for tefillah, etc etc.

One story he told I couldn't find online, so I'm not going to write it and make it so, but it involved a cell phone not turned off in front of an important person who then mussared him.

The correlation he made is obvious. In front of a melech basar v'dam we'd undoubtedly turn our cell phones off, but in front of Hashem we don't?

I was always careful to turn my phone onto silent before davening. I could use it and check it, but wouldn't be interrupted by it, or interrupt others.

Rabbi Feiner didn't mention turning the phone onto silent as an option. I'm sure he'd agree that it's better than nothing, but he jumped straight to turning the phone off.

I decided I'd give it a go. Worst comes to worst, I couldn't do it and I'd go back to silencing it.

It's really hard. But it makes a difference. The temptation to finish davening faster is lessened, because there's no phone to pull out after. At that point, having kavanah becomes easier too.

Try it. Not just once, but for a few days.

I decided to write about it because of what happened yesterday in shul. After shacharis, a gentleman approached me. We have something in common that brought me to his attention.

I was doing my post-davening routine, which included taking out my cell phone and turning it back on. He noticed and complimented me for it. I haven't been doing it long enough that I feel it's a "me" thing quite yet.

So I mentioned that I had just heard a speech on it this past Shabbos. A speech given by Rabbi Feiner in the White Shul in Far Rockaway.

"I was there too."


As I wrote yesterday, ma rabu ma'asecha Hashem.

To not pay attention to that, during the Aseres Y'mei Teshuva of all times, is to be blind. What the message is, beyond trying doubly hard to maintain keeping my phone off during davening, I don't know, but I know I could use all the inspiration I can get during these auspicious times. I figured you could do the same.

For those of you I don't speak to before Yom Kippur, have a g'mar chasima tova.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

How Wondrous Are Your Deeds

I heard this story tonight from someone I know whose son is in aveilus.

Let's call the son Yitzi. Yitzi was walking down the street when a meshulach approached him asking him for money. Yitzi pulled out a dollar and handed it over. And started walking away.

The meshulach walked after Yitzi and attempted to tell him the story of why he was collecting money.

Yitzi listened and was sympathetic to the man's cause, but he had X number of dollars on him and they were all set aside for specific things.

As Yitzi walked away again, he couldn't help but feel really badly. After thinking about it for a short while, he chased after the man and gave him 2 more dollars.

All the money that he had had on him was for laundry. 3 loads: whites, darks and dress.

Being in aveilus, Yitzi can't buy his own new clothing. In a situation where he has no choice but to buy them, someone else needs to wear them first.

The third load, the dress load, was for these new pants, worn by a friend over the past few days.

Yitzi, with a lighter heart, but no longer a means of having fresh dress pants, headed back to yeshiva.

When Yitzi got back to yeshiva, he saw his friend, Shimon. There Shimon was, holding Yitzi's pants, on hangars from the dry cleaner.

Hashgacha pratis is a permanent fixture in our lives. But being able to see it staring you in the face...during the Aseres Y'mei Teshuva...

Ma rabu ma'asecha Hashem.

I Don't Know What To Do- Edited

I didn't ask for your advice. You offered it anyway. And now I'm stuck. Stuck with what I think vs what you think.

You express surprise when I disagree. Who knows better. Who's thought about it more?

To discount you is foolish. You do know me. But do you know me better than I know myself? To be able to tell me what's better for me?

The confidence with which you tell me what you think disturbs me too. Adds to my own internal doubts about what is right for me. Why do you have such confidence? What insight do you have into me that I don't see in myself?

It's strange to even consider that you might know better.

I suppose now at least I have more to consider than I did before, which I suppose is a good thing. I suppose.

Update: Thankfully, this is no longer entirely relevant. The consideration is (because that's always helpful), but not the advice or the subject for the indefinite future. BH.

Edit: "you" is a relative. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Trim The Fat

When I decided to start working out, for the reasons I did, I didn't have much of a goal besides losing a bit of weight and clearing out my system from bad habits. It seemed like a worthwhile goal in and of itself, and I was thrilled to be active again, increasing my stamina and hopefully just being more fit in general.

It's not hard to see how bodybuilders come into existence. There's something thrilling about the burn and ache of muscles, during and after a workout. The sharpness that the world seems to take on. Color is more vivid, sensations are stronger.

I'm not going to become a bodybuilder. I don't have the time or patience for it. My life and what I can accomplish during my time on Earth will be more significant than having a great body.

But trimming the fat is manageable with a reasonable workout and proper eating.

The expression "trim the fat" got me thinking about other areas where I can remove excess and live a healthier, frummer life.

Through trimming the fat, I hope I can define (and have defined) six-packs all throughout my life.