At a recent gathering of communityleaders, I spoke about two approaches to life and to change: The traditionalrabbinic approach to Rosh Hashana, in which we feel remorse or guilt and workto improve our actions vs. the wisdom of Thomas Leonard, a past leader inpersonal and executive coaching who wrote “See how perfect the present reallyis. Especially when it is clearly not.”
Where should we start withthe change we want in our lives, then: From a place in which we feel incompleteor from a place in which we feel complete? According to the Chasidic leaderSimcha Bunim of Peshischa (1765–1827), we actually start in both places. Hespoke of how each person must have two pockets, with a note in each. When onefeels down and depressed, s/he should reach into the pocket for the note whichsays “For my sake was the world created.” [Mishna Sanhedrin]. Andwhen one feels above it all and haughty, s/he should reach into the otherpocket, and for the note: “I am but dust and ashes.”[Genesis 18].
Both ideas represent truth,and both represent our starting points at the High Holidays. We are strikinglymortal. Yet at the same time, the world was created for each and every one ofus.
Our world and our livescontain continuous challenge. We find ourselves riding a roller coast of upsand downs: emotionally, financially, and often in our careers andrelationships. What the Hasidic story teaches is the need for balance. Werecognize our power and our limits, our strengths and our vulnerabilities. Andwe use all of who we are to balance ourselves and to make ourselves, ourfamilies, our communities and our world better in the year ahead.
May you and yours be blessedwith a shana tova u’metukah, a Happy and Sweet New Year,
The Notorious R.A.V.