Why you need copy editors and proofreaders…

It is much easier to spot someone else’s errors because your brain will not as easily assume what the author meant to write. I do try to check my posts, but sometimes things will get by me and I do not have a proofreader. So, please show mercy if you see an error. Just make a note in the comments section and I will fix it.

This former copy editor and proofreader thanks you for your understanding.

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One year out…another year in

As this time of self reflection comes to a close, I am thinking about the past year and the year to come. Did I make the most of the past year? Will I make the most of the coming year? Did I grow and mature during this last year? Will I grow and mature more in the next?
 
I never want to stagnate. I always want to keep growing, learning, and maturing in soul and spirit. I want to become all I was created to be and make a positive difference in my community and in the lives of the people around me.
I want to be a light that shines in darkness, a comfort in the midst of grieving, a hope in the midst of despair, a kind word and smile in the midst of loneliness.
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When worlds collide…

I live in two worlds…my Creator’s and man’s. Each one has its own calendar and they often collide. These collisions actually happen every weekend, but this month is the perfect storm of collisions.

The Fall High Holidays are very important to me…part of the Creator’s calendar. These are His moedim…appointed times. Yeshua (Jesus) made it clear that none of the Torah (teachings… which include commands) were done away with. In fact, Yeshua taught that anyone who annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Clearly, this is important to Yeshua. This is about obedience. Both the annuller/breaker and the keeper are in the kingdom of heaven. It is a question of who is considered least and how is considered great. However, I believe there is something that is even greater than obedience…not replacing obedience, but deepening it. That something is love.

We are to love our Creator with everything we are and everything we have. We are to love our fellows as ourselves. Our motivation for obedience is to be love. Every thing we say and think and do is to come from a heart that loves our Creator and our fellows.

We see in the Bible our Creator placing a very high value on obedience and on love. In fact, love is of the ultimate importance and we are told that what comes out of the mouth is actually coming from our hearts. Are our words reflecting a heart of love?

Something to think about.

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Elul 29 – Erev Rosh HaShanah tonight

Elul 29 – Erev Rosh HaShanah tonight

Why are we lazy? Why do we overeat? Why are we always getting angry?

If we are ever reprimanded for improper behavior, we usually have one ultimate response. “That’s how I am.” We are what we are.

This answer, in effect, is a way of saying we are not responsible for our actions. We are saying we cannot change ourselves because that is how we were constructed. In other words, we do not have the free choice to be otherwise.

“That’s how I am” is such a popular response because, in fact, most of us do not believe we have free choice. This is one of the characteristics of modern man.

There are good reasons why we like to avoid the belief we have free choice. One is it is more convenient for us to do so, for it helps us avoid guilty feelings for any of our shortcomings. We are interested in following our lower desires and do not want to feel guilty about our behavior. No one needs to feel guilty about a nature over which he has no control.

Another reason is the deterministic attitude of science, which has permeated all levels of popular thought. The evolutionary description of the origins of man turns him into another animal. We are, like animals, a bundle of nerve-endings and emotional drives. Animals have no control over themselves. It follows that neither do we.

If our appetites and drives define us, then we have no reason to change.

Rosh HaShanah is a time when we can begin ridding ourselves of this attitude. This is the day, the first of Tishrei, which corresponds to that day when the first human was created. We, as well, are able in a sense to recreate ourselves on this day.

Man’s creation was unique among all beings created before him. He was the first being with free choice. Only he could decide his fate. Only he could choose between good and evil. Only he could rise above his nature.

Man was given this unique quality because God wanted him to choose out of his free will to recognize Him and to adhere to His laws. In fact, this is the purpose for which God brought all of creation into being. To do this, man had to have free choice.

This is why the Sages say, metaphorically, that on the first Rosh HaShanah, God was recognized for the first time as “King.” Similarly, in our prayers on every Rosh HaShanah, we address God as our “King.” King in Hebrew has a special connotation. A king is a sovereign who is accepted willfully by his citizens, unlike a ruler who imposes himself on his subjects against their will. Since a “being with free will to choose” now existed, God could now be recognized for the first time as “King,” willfully accepted by mankind.

The first day of man’s creation is also the day of his judgment. Because man has free will, he is responsible for his actions. A responsible person has to answer for his actions. Just as on that first Rosh HaShanah man was given life, similarly on that day every year God judges man as to whether he deserves to live for another year.  

This judgment depends upon whether or not man has used, and intends to use, his free will properly. If man chooses to use it to subordinate himself to God, he deserves life; otherwise he does not.

Choosing to subordinate our lives to the service of God is not an easy task. But it is not possible unless we bring home to ourselves that we have free choice to act as we want. For without the capacity to choose, how can we decide how to direct our lives?

We never lose the capacity to control ourselves. We never lose the capacity to choose.

The holiday of Rosh HaShanah is a time when it is vital that we regain our belief in our free choice and that there is nothing stopping us from changing. The next time we feel like saying, “That’s how I am,” we should ask ourselves instead, “What would I prefer to be?”

 

Shared by our Rebbetzin Judy Sekulow  (original source unknown)

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Elul 28 – Approach to Rosh HaShanah

Elul 28 – Approach to Rosh HaShanah

Elul, the Jewish month preceding Rosh HaShanah is known to be an acronym for the Hebrew words: Ani l’dodi v’dodi li – “I am for my beloved and my beloved is for me.” This month we have had a special opportunity to become closer to God, our “dodi,” our beloved friend who is anxiously awaits us.

However, as Rosh HaShanah approaches and the 10 Days of Repentance begin, we start shift to referring to God as “Avinu Malkeinu” – our Father and our King.

What happened to the “friendly” God we were getting to know?

Why the sudden shift in gears from love and closeness to fear of a stern, kingly figure?

In Elul, God is the visiting friend who knocks on our door, as hinted to in the Song of Songs that writes (5:2) “the sound of my friend (dodi) knocking”. The question is: Do we hear the knocking? And if we do, do we open the door and let Him in?

During Elul, God is no longer the stranger we leave standing at the closed door. He’s our close friend who we welcome into our home, hoping he’ll stay a while. And when an invited guest staying in our home arrives from afar, we open the door, help him in with all his bags, and move things around in the spare room to make some space, change the sheets and make sure he feels at home.

Likewise, we need to make God feel at home as our houseguest. First of all, we need to clear some stuff out and make room for God in our hearts. It would be rude to ignore our Guest. We need to spend some quality time with Him, come up with topics of conversation that will interest Him, ask Him what He would like and how we can best accommodate Him. This is the work of Elul, when “I am for my beloved friend as my beloved friend is for me.”

Just how much space do we have to set aside for God? The Midrash on Song of Songs (5:2) says: “Open up for me an opening like the eye of a needle and in turn I will enlarge it to be an opening through which wagons can enter.”

God just needs an opening as big as an eye of the needle. If you take the initiative and allow God to enter into your life through a tiny hole, you’ll see exponentially greater results.

How do we put this into practice during Elul? Making room for God and letting Him in starts by clearing out distractions and desires that control us and get us off track. For different people, these distractions manifest themselves in different ways. For some, it may be spending too much time on their mobile device, surfing the internet, watching T.V. or movies, or playing video games.

For some, it might be overeating or an inability to share of their wealth or possessions with others, and for others it may be a tendency to hurt their loved ones with words, lies or disloyalty.

This is the time to take a look at your values and priorities, rearrange some furniture where you know you’re clearly blowing it, and start putting together a plan of action for realignment.

So as we move toward Rosh HaShanah, we need to make the firm commitment to create a permanent, defined place where God can make Himself comfortable, become a part of the family, and move into our home.

We’re not just moving things aside for the week, waiting for Him to leave so we’ll have our space back. Rather it is taking one small step within an area of our lives we know needs fixing, and relegating control of that small space to God.

Now it is a room He can call His own. It may start small, but it’s His room, His permanent dwelling space. God now becomes our father, and He’s moving in!

On Rosh HaShanah our relationship with God changes from beloved friend to King. We come to realize that God is not just our houseguest. He’s not even an elderly father we’re allowing to move in. Rather, He is the King!

It’s His house, He is the Host and He is benevolently providing us with everything we need to live a comfortable, productive existence. On Rosh HaShanah, we coronate God as King, keeping in mind the world and everything in it is ultimately His anyway.

He has a purpose for each and every one of us. On the first day of the new year, as we set the “destination” on our GPS device for the journey of the coming year, our goals and priorities need to take that in to consideration. This has to be our perspective. We’re not the ones making space for God; He’s the One making space for us.

Are you ready to crown Him King? Then come Join us at Congregation Beth Adonai @ 8:00pm tomorrow night and start the process.

 

Shared by our Rebbetzin Judy Sekulow (original source unknown)

Posted in Beit-Shalom, Elul, Life, repentance, Rosh Hoshanah, spiritual journey, Spirituality, Teshuvah | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Elul 27 – Your life mission

Elul 27 – Your life mission

Rosh HaShanah is a time of evaluation. But to accurately assess your performance this year, you have to know your job description.

Imagine you are an undercover agent sent into Iran. You’ve had years of training, have two vital contacts in Tehran, and are equipped with the latest hi-tech spy gadgetry. Only one thing is lacking: You have no idea what your mission is.

Many of us go through life like that. We follow the route laid out by society: going to college, finding a job, getting married, raising a family, but with no clear sense of the unique mission entrusted to us. We are pulled in many different directions, feeling compromised in what we do and guilty for what we don’t do.

Identifying our mission is the first step in leading a life of vibrancy and joy.

Knowing your personal mission is essential preparation for Rosh HaShanah. On Rosh HaShanah, God apportions to each of us life, health, livelihood, and everything else.

What is your plan for how you propose to use the life God gives you?

We are used to praying for life, health, and livelihood as ends in themselves. In the Divine accounting, however, life, health, and livelihood are simply the tools – the hi-tech spy gadgetry – that will enable you to accomplish your mission.

The Creator has outfitted you with a unique set of aptitudes, talents, and interests perfectly suited to what you are charged with accomplishing. By following your inclinations and abilities, you may already have found your mission. If your mission is not yet clear to you, take a half hour between now and Rosh HaShanah and reflect on, “What do I really want to do with my life?”

Jeremiah 29:11-14 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

 

Shared by our Rebbetzin Judy Sekulow (original source unknown)

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Elul 26 – Countdown to Rosh HaShanah

Elul 26 – Countdown to Rosh HaShanah

Everyone speaks about preparing for Rosh Hashanah.

“Are you prepared?” (Are we ever? Is it something with a finite beginning and end?)

“Are you preparing?” (Is it an ongoing process? Shouldn’t we be preparing our whole lives?)

“Are you done with your preparations?”

In order to properly prepare, we need to know exactly what we are preparing for. What is Rosh Hashanah? What am I supposed to learn and understand and internalize on this day? And how do I get myself ready to do so?

Of course there are the physical preparations – the grocery shopping, the menu planning, the cooking. But the real work is spiritual.

The real work requires introspection and reflection. The real work demands exploration and understanding. There are three ideas that are central to Rosh Hashanah – kingship, shofar and remembrance. It is the acceptance and internalization of these concepts that will be determinative of our Yom Tov experience.

Kingship (malchut) means accepting the Almighty’s absolute authority. Whatever He says, goes. Whether it makes sense to me or not. In fact, if it makes sense to me there is a danger I am acting in response to my own intellect and reason and not to the Almighty’s command.

Once I’ve used my mind to determine there is a God and He gave us His Torah, then I need to subjugate my will to His. I can deepen my understanding of the mitzvot (commandments) in order to strengthen my observance of them and my connection to God – but not as a way of evaluating their importance or relevance. My intellect and my goals can’t share the monarchy with the Almighty. My intellect is only a tool in the service of my Creator.

What happens when we hear that shofar blow? It’s a very profound, almost primal experience. It reaches deep within us to access an innate place of hope and yearning. The shofar symbolizes redemption. It won’t always be like this. There is a better world coming. There is not need to despair. Whatever happens at the UN…the Almighty will redeem us. The Messiah will come again. There will be a world of clarity and not confusion. This allows us to get up and face each day. The shofar reminds us never to give up, that no matter how bleak it seems, dawn is just around the corner.

And finally, remembrance. What does it mean that the Almighty remembers us? Was there a risk He would forget? It means we have a personal relationship with Him; He cares about each of us individually. Kingship can be (should be) a little intimidating.

Kingship can be a little distant, a little awe-inspiring! Remembrance is up close and personal. The Almighty cares about me. He’s involved in my life.

 

Shared by our Rebbetzin Judy Sekulow (original source unknown)

A personal note from our leadership:

It is the prayer of the Leadership of Beth Adonai that you all will have a meaningful High Holy Day season and be filled anew with your love of Messiah and your walk in Him.

 

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Elul 25 – The Countdown to Rosh HaShana

Elul 25 – The Countdown to Rosh HaShana

Less than a week remains until Rosh HaShana, which is called “the birthday of the world.” In fact, Rosh HaShana is the birthday of the first humans – Adam and Eve. This means the first day of creation coincides with the 25th of Elul.

Today is the day in the Hebrew calendar which carries with it nothing less than the energy of the creation of existence – time, space, matter, darkness, and light. Today we begin preparing the world for its rendezvous with God on Rosh HaShana.

If thus far you have not taken full advantage of the opportunities inherent in Elul to prepare for the High Holidays, the time to start is now. Preparation is essential for success in anything in life – be it material or spiritual, be it an audit of your taxes, or an audit of your soul.

Image your self arriving at a reception room of a big corporation ill prepared for an interview you’d expect nothing to happen. Similarly, if you arrive at the Congregation on Rosh HaShana without preparation, without knowing what you are there for, or what this is all about, what can you truly expect?

Moses was on the mountain for 80 days. You don’t have to physically go to the mountain, but you have to climb. Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur will be only the sum total of what you do today.

How well prepared are you for the High Holidays?

 

Shared by our Rebbetzin Judy Sekulow (original source unknown)

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