Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Challenge of a New Year

L'refuat RivkA bat Teirtzel

The paytan in the Rosh Hashana machzor (Achot Ketana) tells us, “Let the year and its curses conclude! Let the year and its blessings begin!” How is this year different than last? It is in our perception of the events we have experienced. Whatever challenges we tackle, whatever our difficulties, whatever our pain, we can choose how we look at the experience. Are we growing from it? Are we becoming better people? Are we now more empathetic? With our experience, can we now help others in similar straits?

At the same time, we of course do not seek out challenges. Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky, in a shiur about raising children, emphasizes that one must daven for “normal” tzaar gidul banim (pain of raising children). Tzaar gidul banim there will be, but please Hashem let it be normal: normal illnesses, normal experiences. I would expand on that and say that our prayer must be for normal challenges! We need challenge to grow and to become better people, but please Hashem, only the most normal and mundane challenges: Will I get a raise, not will I find a job. Will I get over this cold, not will I recover from this serious illness.

Recognizing that our challenges ultimately are for our benefit, and giving over control to Hashem, will also help us meet our challenges with more strength and calm.

And don't get the idea that I think this is all easy. I know it's not. Some of my friends are dealing with awesome challenges, and I don't mean "awesome" the way we did when we were 16. And I am in awe of how they are meeting these challenges!

Paradoxically, the key to accepting that everything is for the good is ... to see the good. To see the good in EVERYTHING. And this takes practice.

At the beginning of the school year the teacher of one of our kid's classes emphasized that we can give our kids a tremendous head start at success by looking at their work every day, and only seeing the good. "Even if he just drew a straight line at the top of the page and didn't write anything else at all, praise that line! But do not criticise." And after 3 weeks of school we see tremendous good coming from this child. Relentlessly positive interactions are making the difference.

If we can be relentlessly positive about everything, we'll suffer less, feel better about our pain, spend less time moping, get to the really important stuff. That's our challenge. To see the coming year and it's blessing, and not to see the curses.

Gemar Chatima Tova


Lady-Light said...

I am glad that I looked at this post. This is exactly what I need to focus on.
Thank you!

the sabra said...

saw u comment on ladylight's blog that "no one comments on my blog" (not verbatim) so i came to comment and let you know that some stranger across the sea is here for you (in case u need attention, love etc ;)

be well!

Yehudi01 said...

I really enjoyed your blog! I stumbled upon it through Oleh Musings, and glad I did! Keep up the great work and I'll stop by often to catch your latest!
L'Shalom, Yehudi

Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...

Thanks everyone for stopping by. I really appreciate it. Now I'll have to work harder at posting regularly. :)

Yehudi01 said...

What a nice blog! I've enjoyed reading through your posts and will return to read your latest!

Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...

Thank you so much Yehudi! I really appreciate your taking the time to comment. Kol tuv