This Shabbat we read Parsha Vayechi, closing the Book of Genesis. This coincides with the end of the secular year 2017. The religious and secular realms share something else as well; we immediately move forward into the Book of Exodus and seamlessly, 2018 starts.
Exodus’s incredible story awaits its unfolding. And if only based on the events of the past year, we anticipate 2018 will be filled with things that will both challenge us and have a far-ranging impact upon us. How we respond will also have a great effect on the future as well.
We end Genesis, as with every book of Torah, with the traditional closing: “Hazak, Hazak, v’nitchazek! Be strong and together we shall be strengthened!”
May we live 2018 energized with the courage of our convictions and move forward together. May 2018 be a year of blessings for us all, in which we work toward creating a legacy worthy of the next generation.
Shabbat Shalom and Happy New Year!
Hard to get where you are going if you don’t know where you are
And you cant know where you are if you don’t know where you’ve been.
As aphorisms go, mine needs some work, but I hope you get the gist of it. We are ourselves links in a chain and our life journey is similar. The things we learn along the way shape us. Knowing our past helps us understand our present; who we are and how we connect with others. And that helps us take the next steps on our journey.
Our Legacy is not merely an Ethical Will we leave behind, it is the product of our life experiences. Let’s spend some time during 2018 embracing this idea and using it to understand how better to connect and create more meaningful relationships.
This week we lost Glenn Frey, a remarkable artist and musician. This song from the Eagles’ album Long Road Out of Eden is a lovely tribute and a guiding thought for us this Shabbat. Glenn reminds us that we leave the world to our children. What shall we leave behind as our legacy?
What do we leave behind?
I was saddened to learn of Glenn Frey’s passing. His music and artistry were amazing gifts he shared with us all as a solo artist and through the Eagles. I watched the documentary and thought we will never see him perform again or share new poetry with us. But his legacy of music will endure. I could not help but turn inward and wonder what is my legacy?
This accounting is often referred to as Cheshbon HaNefesh in the Jewish Tradition. But it is more than looking back and making a list; the Cheshbon is more than a list, it is an assessment by us of ourselves. Such a perspective is much more than a posthumous accounting or someone else’s reflection; it means that we can be proactive managing this list and our lives for whatever time we have. We are active, not passive in the process of this accounting. Since it “ain’t over ‘till it’s over,” as the American Philosopher Yogi Berra said, we could change the course of our lives if we are willing to do so.
Often we leave important conversations unspoken. The discomforts we believe these conversations will cause make us shy away from them. But then we miss an extraordinary opportunity. It is never too late to tell those we love that indeed we do love them, until they are gone. We can talk about our lives, the triumphs and the tribulations, the things in which we had success and the times when we missed the mark. We can give them an understanding of their meaning to us; for too often those thoughts are not expressed. By sharing our aspirations and our vulnerabilities we can elevate our relationships by bringing those we care about close to us.
Not all of us possess the gifts of a Glenn Frey and not all of us will have the ability or opportunity to change the whole world. But we do have the capacity to change our piece of the world. We can decide what kind of relationships we create or nurture with those we care about. We choose to add our voice and our support to the people and causes we care about. Through these we change our piece of the world and our legacy is written by us.