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Rabbi's Blog

Thoughts and Musings by Rabbi Yossi Zaklikofsky

You and Only You!

You and Only You!

I recently had coffee with a woman who expressed how insignificant her Jewish practice seemed to her.

I hear these similar sentiments all too often:

 “A packed synagogue of Jews praying may be awesome, but when I stand there, often feeling lost in the crowd, I wonder if my individual prayer even matters at all!”

The Real question is:

“Do my Mitzvot really matter to G-d? Or are they just a bunch of fuzzy, feel good, traditional platitudes?”

This sort of reminds me of another question I get all the time: “Rabbi, what’s it like having so many children?”

The answer is: “They’re a great bunch, but I only have one of each.”

As parents, we know how we infinitely love each of our children. Would we trade one in for anything? 

Judaism uses this same parent/child dynamic to explain the relationship between a Jew and G-d.

“Each Jew is like G-d’s only child.”

I one heard a story of how a 93 year old Grandmother cries every Friday as she lights her Shabbat candles. Her grandson once asked her: “Why do you cry each and every time?  I can understand if it’s a special occasion, but to tear up each time? I don’t get it…”

She explained to him that she cries each week because of what her grandfather told her when she was a little girl:

“Each time you light the Shabbat candles, G-d is present before you and answers Amen to your blessing; and after lighting them, as you uncover your eyes to welcome Shabbat, He turns to you, embraces you and wishes you Shabbat Shalom.”

“So how can I not cry?” she concluded.

I think about this story often, and now, with the Jewish New Year approaching I’d like to share its powerful message with you:

You’re not one of millions of Jewish women lighting Shabbat candles. You’re not one of millions of Jewish men wrapping those Tefillin. To our father in Heaven, you are the only one! It is you and only you.

This year, consider approaching your Jewishness with the thought that no one can light your candle, no one can give your charity or say your prayer. Only you can.

L’Shana Tova!

Rabbi Yossi Zaklikofsky

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