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Rabbi's Blog

Thoughts and Musings by Rabbi Yossi Zaklikofsky

Keep the Change!

Keep the Change! 

Once, a Zen master in New York City approached a hot dog vender and ordered a hotdog with all the toppings.

The vendor fixed a hot dog and handed it to the Zen master, who paid with a 20 dollar bill.

The vendor put the bill in the cash box and closed it. "Excuse me," said the Zen master: "Where is my change?"  

Without missing a beat the vender replied: "Change must come from within."

All jokes aside, I often wonder about the great dynamic of change and transformation.

Particularly during this season as we prepare for the High Holidays, there’s a ‘self-improvement’ energy in the air. The big buzz word is: ‘Teshuvah’ which is commonly translated to mean Repentance, and implies – change, fixing, and ‘time to shape up’.

But how realistic is this notion of transformation? Are we meant to reinvent ourselves on a yearly basis?

I don’t think so. But it would be helpful to properly define the word Teshuvah, which literally means ‘to return’.

And ‘returning’ (not reinventing) is what it’s really all about!

The High Holidays afford us these incredible opportunities where we can return to our core essence, to our truest selves. When we do that, and dig past the surface of life’s daily dramas and tune into our Jewish soul, something magical happens.

We suddenly realize that no transformation is necessary, because indeed all the answers and greatest potentials are right there, at our core - fueled by the divine spark, inside each of us!

So really, none of us needs to change (phew...), we just need to return to our essential selves and unleash the greatness that is already there.

From this perspective, our past shortcomings are not a reflection of our fundamental identity and by returning to our innate, core G-dly self, we are empowered further.

This perspective can actually be quite a paradigm shift, as reflected in the following story:

Years ago, a supporter of Chabad traveled to Brooklyn, NY to meet the Lubavitcher Rebbe. When he approached the Rebbe he said: “I came here to find some Yiddishkeit (Jewish connection).” The Rebbe replied: “For some Yiddishkeit, you didn’t need to come here, you only need to uncover what lies deep in your heart and you will find it”.

So this year, keep the change - only ‘returns’ allowed!

L’shana Tova from Bellaire,

Rabbi Yossi Zaklikofsky

 

 

I challenge you!

I challenge you!

With the Jewish New Year just days away, it is appropriate to remind ourselves about how the Jewish people are essentially one unit.

Just like with the human body; when even one organ is not well, the pain can be felt all over, similarly, when even one 'lone' Jew is lacking in some way – materially or spiritually – we all feel it, it compromises the totality of the Jewish people.

For example, I can think to myself:

"I have a seat reserved at High Holiday services and I've been invited to join a wonderful Rosh Hashanah dinner, it's all good!"

In truth however, each of us can probably identify in our minds at least one Jewish friend, who we know in all likelihood is not planning to celebrate Rosh Hashanah this year, or does not have an invitation or seat reserved for themselves.

Here is where Jewish unity and brotherhood can kick in!

I invite you to join a challenge we took upon ourselves last Shabbat at Synagogue: Please, take a few moments and identify a Jewish acquaintance that probably does not have Rosh Hashanah plans. Reach out to him or her, invite them to join you at your home or your synagogue this Rosh Hashanah.

This will enhance their holiday, your personal holiday and it will enhance the holiday for all of Israel!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Yossi Zaklikofsky

 

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