"...We are about to engage in the emotional, memory-laden, future-seeking time-honored ritual of the annual rerun of our lives. We call it Cheshbon haNefesh – soul searching. Life review. A clearly distinct time set aside for us to look into our past actions and priorities and find there, in living color – just how we did meeting the goals we resolved to last year. What an incredibly powerful act of self-evaluation – and method of determination! A grand exercise of free will to become who we are meant to be!..."
A useful detail emerged after the horrific public deaths of TV reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, who were shot while broadcasting live from a bucolic tourism site near Roanoke, VA. Parker's father is pledging to honor his daughter's life by advocating for strong gun regulations to save lives in the future; meanwhile, the murderer's past (as a disgruntled ex-journalist) is why he's being called a classic injustice collector by an NYPD counterterrorism official observing the case. For each of us, there's an important lesson in balance: to "raise awareness and sensitivity to injustice, without always being on the lookout for slights." Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, president of Clal and co-founder and executive editor of TheWisdomDaily.com, and also suggests three ways to cope with stressful work environments. Watch the Faith on the Record video below.
From Odyssey Networks’ FAITH ON THE RECORD
"When world-famous neurologist Oliver Sacks writes - as he did recently about family, faith and his own impending death - it pays to pay attention. I admit, I'm biased due to the fact that this amazing doctor and author was the friend and colleague of another doctor and author I respect: my late father-in-law, Dr. Harold Klawans...."
"...we are open and vulnerable to our missteps and willing to admit when we did wrong, but we don’t take time to celebrate our successes and victories. While we ask ourselves where we missed the mark and what aspects of ourselves do we need to improve, we must also ask ourselves, What did we accomplish this past year? When were our successes? When did our spiritual work of self-improvement pay off?..."
"...There are bad decisions, decisions for which information is available to warn us away from certain choices. If we ignore that information, we are culpable for those decisions and must atone. There are good decisions, for which we have knowledge that points us toward the best path. If we use that knowledge to make good decisions and benefit, we are to be congratulated. Sometimes, though, we do the best we can with the information we have, and a decision ends up being to our detriment.
"...Some, though not all anger, is as monumental as the anger that emerged from the Holocaust. Most anger exists on a smaller scale. Sometimes anger is justified and others times not. But in all its forms, anger is an expression of our evil inclination and as such it has great destructive potential. Still it also has the potential for good. Anger can drive us to push for change, to protect ourselves and our communities.
"...There is so much to speak about – pressing issues. And, this is the only time we will have such a large sanctuary; filled to overflowing. Where do the themes of the High Holy Days fit in?..."
By Rabbi Steve Bayar, a Rabbis Without Borders Fellow, from the Rabbis Without Borders Blog on My Jewish Learning.com
"...Oliver Sacks may still feel ambivalent about God and about Judaism, but Shabbat clearly adds a sense of wholeness to his life. And while many scientists are wary of religion, because God is not a provable or testable hypothesis, that’s the wrong way to approach the question. If we are looking for a hypothesis to test, perhaps we should ask, ‘Can this practice enhance my life?’ That’s the true test of what religion can do."
"...The stars are there every night, but we can only see them when there are no clouds and when the moon has dwindled. The opportunity to examine ourselves is there all year long - but some seasons of the year offer us special opportunities to see ourselves in a new light...."
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"...My granddaughter and I sit down to make something out of clay, and I strike up a conversation with a young mother. She tells me the name of the settlement where she lives. I think to myself – Wow, we’ve done a good job! Who would have expected that a family from there, a community considered to be a hotbed of Jewish religious extremism, is here at our camp, building bridges of understanding and friendship between Palestinian and Israelis..."