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Blessings up north!

Friday, 14 August, 2020 - 8:07 am

I loathe the heat; so the difference between “heaven” and “hell” was unmistakable. As I made the two hour drive north from Phoenix to Flagstaff, through the Coconino National Forest, I experienced both the hot unbearable desert, where it was a balmy 108 degrees, and the refreshing mountainous Bozeman-like oasis that is 25 degrees cooler. As I stood at the Citizens Cemetery, alongside an incredible showing of friends and family, honored to officiate at my Buddy Joe’s funeral, I realized that a short  geographical distance, can change everything, taking me from “get me out of here” to “amazing”. As we climb higher and higher out of the dry desert, living becomes feasible.

In this week’s Torah portion, Re’eh, we read of the eternal choice G-d gives humanity. He tells us “Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse”, simply speaking: follow G-d’s path and our life will be blessed, choose un-G-dliness and our temporary gratification won’t last long and will only mess life up. So often, we think of this “choice” between right and wrong as undoable, implausible and really a hard choice to make. We see ourselves as “weak” for even wanting vanity and don’t feel “strong” enough to attain the holy life demanded of us. Yet, the truth is, once we begin heading upwards, heading away from the scorching temptations and addictions that burn us, the elevation, the mountain atmosphere, starts feeling really good and inspires us to go a bit higher, act a bit holier, choose a bit healthier and find G-d within our beautiful self.

The Chinese proverb says, “be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still”. We must not allow ourselves to be paralyzed with the fear of failure and must always allow blessings into our life, including the blessing of believing that we stand a chance at being better.  Personally, I often wonder whether I’m capable of change, “come on Chaim, you’re 38, you’re stuck in your old ways and you are who you are”. Then I pause, think for a moment, and realize that the status quo is unbearable, so I certainly can strive to do better, incorporate more meaning; changing at the core. It’s a long windy road from Phoenix to Flagstaff, but the change that occurs along the way, makes it all worth it.

The curses hurt, which is why the blessings always seem like an attainable choice.  

May G-d guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Mashiach speedily. May G-d protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom! Chazak!!! L'Chaim!!!

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