Rabbi Laibl Wolf’s Rosh HaShannah Message 5767

Rabbi Laibl Wolf’s Rosh HaShannah Message 5767

The Courage of a Smile

The stream or river is a wonderful metaphor for life. Observing a gentle stream on a sunny day instills inner peace and harmony. But there are times when the waters swell, crush, pounding their banks. Like the human, the river can change character and transform from tranquility to torrent, from pacific to menacing threat.

Most of us have experienced life’s gentleness and warmth. But the world is “a’changing”. The threat of dark and turbulent waters engulfing our lives looms near. Terrorism, the dagger at the heart of civilized society, is spreading its tentacles in the global village, creating convulsions politically, economically, and socially. Under such increasing threat, confusion and weakness colors the canvass of our lives.

How do we tame this 21st century monster? To destroy the cancerous growth is an obvious priority. At the cancer’s core lies a cadre of demented, evil, and calculating fanatics who employ sophisticated mechanisms of destruction. This phenomenon has many historical precedents. But the one thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history. The solution: prevention is far better than cure.

How do we redesign the seamier and uglier profile of humanity? In the long term, the answer lies not in defensive or invasive operations (necessary as this may be in the sort run to stem the immediate social hemorrhaging). In the long term, prevention and maintenance require two human experiences: joy and personal fulfillment. No-one has lifted his hand in anger when happy, and no-one seeks the other’s assets when fulfilled. It’s that simple – and yet so elusive.

I am a big believer in chaos theory – the multiplier effect, the butterfly effect. The Hassidic founder and master, The Ba’al Shem Tov, taught: the leaf falling off the tree is a designated act of creation that alters the course of history. Everything we say and do (and even think and feel) leaves its signature in the ether of time/space. When we laugh, we produce ‘angels’ of laughter. When we share, we produce ‘angels’ of compassion. In other words, you and I have the capacity to subtly, but definitively, change the face of humanity. Researchers call this the ‘non-local’ field effect. The Frierdicker Rebbe noted that a good thought projected across the other side of the globe leaves a targeted effect, spiritually and materially.

Criminals and terrorists are not born! They are made from the hurt and pain within. But that hurt and pain can be undone – by you. The Lubavitcher Rebbe emphasized many times: a small act of goodness produces a major multiplier effect. A little light dispels the densest darkness. When you and I model kindness, understanding, compassion, happiness, humility – not only do we affect the world with our cosmic signatures, but we instill confidence and hope in those who are in our domain: our families, our clients, our colleagues, our club members, in ways that can only be understood through spiritual insight. Indeed, the ‘non-local’ effects extend even to those who seek our very destruction.

Social malaise doesn’t occur suddenly. Like many illnesses it begins with a diminished immune response mechanism through the three-fold shortcomings – the lack of qualitative nurture, commitment to prevention, and personal discipline.

Now, with the approach of Rosh HaShanna, lies a profound opportunity to become an integral facilitator of social change. Rosh HaShannah is a spiritual dynamic, not just a calendar event. The Kabbalah and its Hassidic teachings inform us that over Rosh HaShannah the creative potential On-High reconfigures – literally. And the new configuration of fate and destiny is dramatically affected by each one of us – through our introspective discoveries plus the commitment to grow, to become a compassionate participant in the radical act of sacred life.

The answer lies in joy (laughter) and fulfillment (radical acceptance).

On the eve of Rosh HaShannah, I ask you to undertake the following simple fivefold personal agenda:

Spend quiet time, without phones or people, introspecting pensively, deeply, thoroughly, and critically – allowing truths about your interpersonal style, your belief systems, your fears, to rise to the surface of consciousness and awareness. Have the courage to look at yourself in your spiritual mirror.

Commit to undoing two of the shortcomings you recognize. But commit with sincerity and depth. Enshrine that commitment by sharing it with a loved one.

Approach someone you may have wronged and humbly and unconditionally seek forgiveness. Bridge the gap and chasm of hurt, through the simplicity of spiritual touch.

Speak to G-d – verbally, uttering real words and sounds. Converse with G-d. Share your aspirations for yourself and the world. Don’t be afraid of your own voice. And don’t be afraid of the Voice that answers you through the exigencies of your life.

Take on a real Mitzva for this coming year. There are Mitzvot for all peoples of the world. Mitzvot are the most powerful spiritual channels for globally neutralizing innate evil. If you have any doubts as to what is the most powerful Mitzva in your life, write to me and I will share with you.

You don’t fight fire with fire. You neutralize fire with water. Fire is Gevurah and water is Hessed. These are the two most powerful emotion tools in our spiritual repertoire. When we make peace, Shalom, in our physical domain, then the angels Gavr’iel (Gevurah) and Micha’el (Hessed) bring peace On-High. When that happens, evil is simply neutralized, without any fight, enmity, war or destruction. The ultimate expression of this is Mashiach. Live your life as if this depends on you alone – because it does! So do it!

Allow yourself to laugh and smile. Even force it. And the world will smile with you.

Allow yourself to accept, and the world will practice acceptance with you. This is the year.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Google Rabbi Wolf for his wisdom.

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