Saturday, August 19, 2017

Elul: Repentance

Dear Friends,

This post is about the Jewish month of Elul, as it relates to The Chazak Plan: A 12 Month Journey to Spiritual Strength.

Rosh Chodesh Elul begins Monday night, the 21st of August, and lasts for two days.

Elul is the time of year to take stock of our lives and prepare for the High Holidays. Most of us have at least one area in which we struggle; perhaps it is being ethical in business, being moral, being charitable and kind, or some other area. Correcting our key flaw(s) is a major part of our life’s mission and why God put us in this world.

Pick one area on which to focus and choose a manageable change you will make on a daily or weekly basis; input this change into your calendar or checklist. If possible, speak to your rabbi or spiritual mentor for guidance. The focus on repentance continues into next month until after Yom Kippur.

As the High Holidays involve reciting many prayers, for suggestions on how to enhance your prayers, see, “How to Unlock the Hidden Power of Prayer.”

Questions for the month:

“Which area do I struggle with that I’m motivated to address this Elul?”

“What is a manageable commitment I will make?

“Is it clear to me what area to focus on and how to repent (if necessary)? If it is not clear, who can I speak to for guidance?”

Take care and may God grant us success in the coming month,

Yaakov

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Who Caused This Crisis?

Dear Friends,

In response to a crisis, whether in our community or an international crisis, we often wonder:
Who Caused This Crisis?

Have a good week,

Yaakov

Saturday, August 5, 2017

What Does God Want from Me?

Dear Friends,

In this week's Torah portion, Ekev, Moses asks the Jewish people:

"What does Hashem, your God, request of you?"

His answer is discussed in the article:

What Does God Want from Me?

Have a great week,

Yaakov

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Longing for the Redemption

Dear Friends,

Tisha B'Av starts this Monday night.


If the Messiah does not come beforehand, may this be the last Tisha B'Av we mourn, 

Yaakov 


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Av: Restoring Love

Dear Friends,

We mourn the loss of those who died in recent terror attacks in Israel, the most recent being this past Shabbat, when three family members were murdered during their Shabbat meal in the town of Halamish. We pray for the speedy recover of one of the family members who was seriously injured. 

Soon, will be Rosh Chodesh Av, which begins Sunday night, the 23rd of July, and lasts for one day.

On the 9th of this month – Tisha B’Av – we fast to commemorate the destruction of the First and Second Temples.

Last month, we focused on removing hatred. This month, we will focus on the next step: Restoring love by apologizing and helping others.

Consider if you may have caused someone distress, by what you said or did. If yes, commit to apologize to them as soon as possible.

In addition, each day of this month, consider checking off on your checklist if you did an act of kindness; it can be something small. If the day is coming to a close and you have not yet done an act of kindness, ask yourself if there is someone you can call or email, who would appreciate that you reached out to them. At the very least, put some money in a charity box. Do not let a day go by without doing something for someone else. As the Sages teach, (Ethics of the Fathers 1:14), “…If I am [only] for myself, what am I?”

The topic of not wronging others is discussed in, “What is Your Number One Spiritual Stumbling Block?” 

The topic of apologizing is discussed in, “Repairing Our Mistakes: How to Ask for Forgiveness.”

Questions for the month:

“Who can I apologize to?” (And make amends if applicable)

“Who can I help?” (Some examples: Giving emotional, financial or physical support, advice, or helping someone find a job, a spouse or a needed resource.)

May God bring the redemption soon and turn this month into one of rejoicing.

Yaakov

Saturday, July 15, 2017

“Why?” 5 Reasons for Suffering

Dear Friends,

When we look for meaning in our difficulties, they serve as a catalyst for growth.

“Why?” 5 Reasons for Suffering

Have a great week,

Yaakov

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Who Are You? Getting in Touch with Your Essence

Who are you?

At your core, are you a nice or nasty person?

If you think about the nice things you have done, you will likely answer, “I’m a nice person.” If you think about the nasty things you have done, you will likely answer, “I’m a nasty person.” So which one are you?