Contemplations for Rosh HaShannah, Yom Kippur and Life
By Dovid Gross
More Important Than "Knowing", is "Doing"
To improve the High Holy Days and your entire year, remind yourself as often as you need to: More Important Than "Knowing", is "Doing".
WHY IT HELPS:
"Knowing" is the mind's desire. It seeks to understand everything. Our mind asks:
* Why is life so hard for me? Will it ever get better?
* Am I heading towards trouble or am I on a good life path?
* How will I handle the future, or even prepare for it, since I have no clue what is coming up?
Questions like these leave the "mind" disappointed, for the answers lie outside of its realm. But the questions return -- and haunt us.
So, how do you stop the ruminations of a restless mind, to quell the inner dialogue and doubt?
Remember to Remember: More Important Than "Knowing", is "Doing". This means that it is more important to keep busy, doing deeds that will certainly add goodness to yourself and to the world, than to wonder, ponder or worry about your future.
This is not to suggest that a heart yearning for G-d is misdirected. On the contrary, longing for connection and seeking a path of holiness are innately Jewish, and very pure.
But at some point we reach our limit of understanding - we are forced to admit our knowledge will always be limited. This is the first step on the holy journey towards a life of faith - a deeper relationship with G-d.
Granted, there are times when introspection is fitting (ie, during the High Holy Days.) But, if worry, doubts, and "dark dread" begin to shake your heart, remember that you and your mind were created by a Creator who is greater than you. And remember that your life is purposeful. Right now, your purpose is to focus and refocus on G-d's essential existence, and His absolute dominion over all creation.
It's not a frightening thought, rather it's comforting. It's good to know you're on the right team.
And during the rest of the year? If your inner questions drive you to enhance your Judaism, they have enhanced your life. But if you find yourself worrying, or seeking closure on matters that only G-d controls, you won't see a benefit.
So displace the darkness. Shift into "Do" mode, and teach your mind who's boss. Do deeds of loving-kindness that make the world a better place. The possibilities are endless, but here are some ideas:
* Find kind words to encourage your spouse or others around you.
* Make a charity box and give coins daily (remember to empty the box often and give the coins to the needy. If the coins remain in your house they haven't helped anyone).
* Anticipate the needs of others and act on them.
* Learn about Torah and Judaism - your permanent link with G-d's wisdom.
Make you own list. The goodness you can add to the world is limitless.
When you change your mind's focus from you and your situation, to those around you and to improving their situation, you become an emmisary of generosity and loving-kindness.
These traits expell "what's-gonna-be?" worries. Your mind space becomes reserved for things that help -- thoughts that lead to action.
Does it sound intimidating to show your brain who's boss? It does, if you think you ARE your brain. But, you are really much more.
You are first and foremost a pure spiritual being, created by G-d. Your spiritual self resides in your body for the duration of your time in this world, to use your physical body for spiritual, meta-physical ends.
In contrast, our brain is the part of us that processes nerve signals, has memory banks and helps us navigate our physicality. "Brain" is central to the body, but not central to a faith-based life, for the brain can only grasp what it can experience. Faith is on a different plane of existence.
The well known verse in the Torah, in the portion of Shoftim, "Tamim Tihiyeh im Hashem Elokecha" meaning that we are to be of pure, perfect faith with G-d. The classic commentator, Rashi, tells us that it means living life as G-d presents it to us and not making inquiries into what the future holds.
So, shift those troubling thoughts aside; replace them with great deeds. Make your corner of the world a better place bit by bit. Everyone can do this and with no monetary expediture. It's not the money you invest in your deeds -- it's the heart. And that is what G-d wants.
How much "heart" can you offer back to G-d this year? Try 1% more than last year -- that's a nice amount of personal change, since your heartfelt prayers now have a deeper, outwardly-focussed direction. Rest your trust and your heart with G-d, the One who gave them to you to begin with.
May we all have a great year, full of great deeds, and free of haunting thoughts. Remember, future knowledge is in G-d's realmbut great Jewish deeds are up to us.
from the October 2006 Edition of the Jewish Magazine