Now for more pre High Holiday material that won’t show up in prime time. Last week it was the CEO and the boiled seeds. Most of you liked that except for B who thought the boss was a psychopath. The more common understanding: truth has to be a core value for any business and for any person.
A group of hunters chartered a plane to fly them to a clearing in the thick jungle. Following their instructions, the pilot returned two weeks later to retrieve them. He looked at the animals they had killed and said:
“This plane can only carry the weight of one buffalo. You will have to leave one behind.”
“But last year the pilot let us take two in a plane exactly this size,” they protested.
Under duress the pilot relented and said:
“If you did it last year, I guess we can do it again this year.”
The plane took off with the hunters and the two buffalo, but the small plane was unable to gain altitude and crashed into a low-lying hill. Miraculously, the men were safe. When they climbed out to survey the situation, one hunter asked:
“Where do you think we are?”
The other looked around and said:
“I think we’re about two miles to the left of where we crashed last year.”
The message: we keep doing the same things. Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The beauty of the High Holidays is that, if we allow it, we get to stop time and think seriously about the things we do and resolve to try a different path. The rest of the year we are too busy or preoccupied for that important work and we keep crashing.
Now your assignment for the coming days. We will spend so much time on our sins – we say the Al Chet and Ashamnu close to 20 times on Yom Kippur alone – and not enough on the good we do. Your assignment is to make a list of things you did in the last year that you wish you hadn’t done. And then, the chiddush (the new thing): make a list of things you did in the last year that made you proud of the kind of person you are – things you did or said, acts of respect, telling the truth, keeping gossip to yourself, sticking to your principles, doing tzedakah. Share your list with loved ones if you wish, but surely bring it with you to services. Think about it periodically but not during the sermons. It will remind you of the capacity you have for doing evil and for doing good.
Best wishes for a good Wednesday. And speaking of wishes, it’s time for the traditional Rosh Hashanah greeting: L’shanah tovah tikatevu. May you be inscribed for a good year.
P.S. To get further into the holiday spirit, join our Selichot programs/services at Beth El and Ohr Kodesh on Saturday night, and check out the Hazzan’s melodies on the sound cloud: https://soundcloud.com/beth-el-melodies/sets/new-high-holiday-melodies