Author: Gidon Ariel

Published Date: September 10, 2017

Root Source teacher Rabbi Adler has started a 30 day series of Torah thoughts.

Tuesday, September 5th, 30 days/ 30 reflections toward Rosh Hashanah,

Day 15

We’re half way through this month of reflection and meditation and aiming for positive changes for the coming year. February 20, 1993, I was invited to offer a prayer at the installation of a national figure to his new position in Washington DC. President Clinton, Vice President Gore, and dozens of dignitaries were going to be present. Those of us participating in this installation were huddled to a back area behind the stage, in order that the President could meet each one of us and have a picture taken. We waited patiently. My heart raced, I cleared my throat several times, nervously patted my hair into order a hundred times and straightened by tie over and over. Accompanied by flashbulbs and much hubub the President came to our area, approached each of us for quick banter (I prepared some words too), and then the program began. I must admit it was a very heady and elevated moment recorded by a bank of hundreds of cameras in the gallery. But later that day I could have kicked myself! When was the last time when I stood before God in prayer, dressed as nicely and carefully, trying to look my very best, clearing my throat and rehearsing what I would say without fumbling over my words? Did I primp before the President more than before God? I’ve thought about that so many times, and always remind myself to hail to the correct Chief.

Wednesday, September 6th, 30 days/30 reflections toward Rosh Hashanah,

Day 16

The auditorium was jam packed. A most surprising turnout for a contest. A well known Shakespearean actor and a lesser known rabbi were competing to see who could read the 23rd Psalm, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” to greater applause. The actor? Trained by the best, roles galore, stage presence unparalleled. The rabbi? Studied in Europe, worked in several small synagogues, delightful, lucky if his socks matched. The Big Moment: the actor is introduced and recites The Lord is my Shepherd from memory, with perfect diction, intonation, modulation and emotion. He milks it as no one can. He finishes and bows to thunderous applause. Now the rabbi is introduced and he smiles, straightens his yarmulka, and pulls out a small prayer book he’s been using most of his life. He takes a huge risk as he chants the entire The Lord is my Shepherd in Hebrew, a language largely unknown to the audience. He begins to chant the words, not understood, but the emotion is unmistakable. People begin sobbing, crying, blowing their noses, the place is awash with tears by the end and a two minute standing ovation has made it clear that this unassuming rabbi has won the contest. The promoters of the contest are in shock. In his waiting room, sipping vodka, the performer is approached and asked, “How do you account for this unbelievable upset? Why do you think the rabbi won, and in Hebrew yet??” The actor spoke perhaps his best lines ever. “I know the PSALM, but he knows the SHEPHERD.” This, my friends, summarizes our job for the next 2 weeks, how to best, and most intimately, know the Shepherd of Israel, through repentance, prayer and charity.

Thursday, September 7th, 30 days/30 reflections toward Rosh Hashanah,
Day 17
During the summer I saw posts from many people recommending various books during the summer vacation. I think it’s interesting to see what people are reading and in perusing their lists I can find new and interesting titles I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Vacation is over and in September/Elul I have 3 outstanding books to recommend to all my Jewish friends: the Book of Life, the Book of Death, and the Book of the In-betweens. According to our tradition, these 3 books will be open beginning Rosh Hashanah, and our Sages teach that at the end of the judgment period each of us will be inscribed in one of these books. As compelling as that is, I have a take on it that makes me think about my words and actions: once done, it is OUR OWN DEEDS that sign their names into these books, and that’s what God looks at. Did our signatures appear in the book of life, or death, or in between? We think twice and more before doing and saying anything, because those signatures are not erased. Post summer vacation, these 3 books can make all the difference.

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