by Linda Dayan
Most of us are still enjoying the summer vacation. We are away from the daily routine, which keeps us busy during the year at home. The kids may be in camp and few parents have any thoughts about school supplies!
However, I’m sure that you have heard (even if you claim to have forgotten every now and then)… the Holidays are “early this year!”
As I once heard from Rabbi David Orlovsky: “Did you ever notice that the High Holidays are either early or late? How come they are never ON TIME?”
We have entered the Jewish month of Elul, which tells us that Rosh HaShana is less than a month away. This statement is not meant to pressure anyone. It is your friendly reminder that we have some work to do; not only for our freezer, but also for ourselves.
The days of Elul are imbued with H-Shem coming closer to the Jewish people. During this period, He is more intensely accessible, with His good will and forgiving “disposition.” We don’t want to miss this opportunity!
Yetzer HaRa (the evil inclination) knows just how to trap us, especially when we are trying to improve. We have to be conscious of how to send him packing. Here are some of his tactics that he may throw your way (so watch out!):
“So what if you talk some lashon hara now and then? It’s not so bad; besides you have to be sociable.”
“You were born with lots of anger; that’s how you’ve always been and no one expects you to change – especially at your age!”
“I know it’s important for you to dress more modestly, but come on… you’re not that religious. Besides, if you can’t do it perfectly, then why try at all?”
So let’s use these days of Elul to make baby steps in the right direction.
No, your speech will not change overnight. But you can learn 2 halachot a day with a friend (not more, or you may give up). It can take about five minutes on the phone and make a difference in your day.
Anger, or any mida (personality trait) can take years to work on. NOW is the best time to start. No one said you have to finish! Perfection is another one of the Yetzer HaRa’s tricks to get you to despair. How about aiming to keep your voice down for a specific one or two hours a day.
If you want to be more modest, pick some area that is not too difficult for you. If you have a friend for support, that always helps. But don’t think that a baby step in the right direction is not considered growth. No matter how tiny, YOU have made a STEP. And H-Shem values that!
So know that H-Shem loves us and is closer this time of year. Take advantage of His kindness to us by looking for small meaningful steps to enter this New Year as a person who is trying.
Do your best and let H-Shem do the rest.
Wishing all the Jewish Hostess readers a healthy, happy and sweet year; one in which we feel fulfilled, accomplished and having more self-respect because of our efforts to progress.