Mazeltov to Esther Chazen on the occasion of her grandson Aaron Chazen’s engagement to Hannah daughter of Sol and Lauren Swartz    Mazeltov to Leora daughter of Michael and Shereen Fisher on the occasion of her engagement to Brad son of Aubrey and Hazel Rosen     Mazeltov to Cayli daughter of Laurence and Marice Smith on the occasion of her engagement to Yaron son of Manny and Dafna Sher    Mazeltov to Adam and Romy Presky, on the birth of a daughter and mazeltov to grandparents Chonnie and Heather Becker    Mazeltov to Gabriel son of Selwyn and Roz Smith, on his engagement to Michal daughter of Boris and Tricia Benari

Home » The Shul Connection » Shabbat Shalom from Rabbi David Shaw

Shabbat Shalom from Rabbi David Shaw

Shabbat Shalom from Rabbi David Shaw

“The most important piece of advice I can give anyone as I think about ways to change the world with the beginning of Elul are two words: think small.” These are the worlds of Rabbi Benjamin Blech, a senior professor at Yeshiva University in an altogether brilliant article on how to prepare and make a difference for the coming days of awe. He continues that  “It may be far-fetched, yet the greatest philosopher of the Jewish people did not hesitate to phrase it this way in order to impress upon every one of us the truth that every person makes a difference , and every one of our actions has consequences on the divine scale of judgment. And there is yet another way to think small. It is expressed beautifully by way of a story told in the name of the Chofetz Chaim. At one time, he was asked how he was able to have such a great impact on the Jewish world.  This is how he answered: “Originally, I set out to change the world, but I failed.  So, I decided to scale back my efforts and only influence the Jewish community of Poland, but I failed there, too.  So, I targeted the community of my hometown of Radin, but I achieved no greater success.  Then I gave all my effort to changing my own family and I failed at that as well. Finally, I decided to change myself and that’s how I had such an impact on the Jewish world. “There is a movement today that has taken the concept a step further into practice. It concerns itself not with the really large issues, issues which realistically most of us will be unable to influence, but with the smaller daily interactions which in fact define everyday life. It’s called “small acts of kindness” and I love it precisely because its demands are so easy and yet, if universally practiced, would really change our lives. The suggestions are simple. Choose one or a dozen:

  • Give a genuine compliment to somebody at least once a day.
  • Write down what you appreciate about another family member and pass it along.
  • Check in with someone who’s sick.
  • Ask if you can help someone who may be having a difficult time in life right now.
  • Lend your vehicle to take someone without one shopping for their necessities.
  • Hold the door open for the person behind you.
  • Make a card for someone special.
  • Deliver flowers anonymously to a hospital patient.
  • Ask a senior citizen about their life story and truly listen.
  • Give a hug to a loved one or friend.
  • Offer to pay another person’s food bill.
  • Lend a hand to someone doing hard work.
  • Donate to a homeless person, perhaps give them some food.
  • Leave a kind server a generous tip.
  • Let a person out from a side road who’s waiting to get into the main road.
  • Help another parent out with a stroller or carrying things.
  • Give someone a book that you no longer need.
  • Give your parents or grandparents a call just because.
  • Volunteer at a community event.

Grandiose plans are great, but we rarely do them. Impressive ideas for changing the world are, yes, impressive but frequently impractical and unrealizable. So perhaps this year before Rosh Hashanah we could scale down our ambitions and think small – and in that way change ourselves and our own world”.

It’s a good start. Not the end of the journey though! Selichot begin at midnight on this Saturday night. We are a week away from Rosh Hashana. If not right now, when?

Rabbi David Shaw

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