Friday, September 17, 2010

Feel More Human

Happy new year! Welcome to volume 5771 of Table Talk.

I have some really good news.

After 10 years of effort, the Hebrew edition of The Art of Amazement is now in print. I haven't actually put my hands on a copy yet, but 1,000 copies were sent out to teachers and organizations around the world, thanks to contributions and pledges from many readers of this blog. $9 enables me to put one book into the hands of one young Israeli and follow-up with him or her. Another shipment will hopefully go out soon, and hopefully we'll eventually fulfill the requests we have for 15,000 copies.

This week - three steps to feeling more human:

1. A timely update
2. An important addition
3. A child's plea for mercy

First, the update:

I gave a few Yom Kippur classes this week. In case you missed them, here are links to two handouts that I used - great Yom Kippur table talk for all ages:

Get the free handouts

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Second, even if you were with me, here is something that I did not say.

Something that is arguably the #1 most important thing to do before Yom Kippur.

Something that has nothing to do with being "religious".

Something that has nothing to do with fasting, praying, yada yada yada.

This afternoon, try finding a moment and place of solitude, and saying aloud the following words:

"I hereby forgive anyone who has hurt me in any way in the past, whether it was intentional or unintentional, knowing or unknowing, negligent or unavoidable. (If they owe me money or an apology, they may still repay or apologize, but I am not going to harbor grudges or bad feelings.) Beginning right now, I am looking forward and not backward in all of my relationships."

Guaranteed to make you feel more human than you felt before you did it.

(What do you have to lose, besides your pride?)

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Finally, people sometimes ask me what's the best way for a non-religious person to do Yom Kippur? How about kids? Make them sit through a long service bored out of their minds?

Are you crazy?

If you are not inspired to sit in shul, PLEASE do not go to services just because “I’m supposed to.” That’s a great way to kill your soul.

If you have any influence over children, PLEASE do not drag them to services just because "I’m supposed to". That's a great way to kill their souls.

A better use of Yom Kippur: go visit an assisted living facility. Go see how your single/divorced/widowed neighbor is doing.

And if you are one of the pious ones who likes to be in shul, make sure to read the words of the Yom Kippur Haftara - this is exactly what the Prophet Isaiah is telling us to do.

Think about it.

Happy Yom Kippur

Yes, happy!

PS - there may not be an update the next 2 weeks because I'll be sitting in my Sukka.

PS – this inspired 104-second video is all about changing one’s perspective:

Friday, September 03, 2010

What Do You Want To Fix?

Today (Friday) begins the last week of the year 5770.

There is an old piece of Jewish wisdom: "Everything goes after the end."

This means that the final week gives us a last chance to fix things that we might not have been so successful at this past year.

What could you have done better at this past year?

Diet? Exercise? Temper-control? Joy? Patience? Getting up early? Avoiding distractions? Hugging your loved ones?

Do it right for one week, beginning now.

Everything goes after the end. One can literally fix the entire year this way.

This is what it means to live, to be inscribed in the Book of Life. I won't be blogging next week, but in the meantime, you might enjoy these classic Seinfeld videos on Rosh Hashana:

Wishing you a meaningful and inspiring New Year of sweetness, health, joy, prosperity and life!

לשנה טובה


PS – Here are two inexpensive books that can enrich your Holidays, whether you are at shul, at home, or elsewhere: