The High Holidays are all about personal growth. Here are key areas that will make the greatest difference in building overall spiritual health.
"The world stands on three things: On Torah, on the service [of God], and on acts of kindness." (Talmud - Avot 1:2)
A chair or table needs at least three legs to stand on. In the spiritual world, this is true as well. Every human being has three primary relationships in life: with yourself, with God and with others. Success and balance is required in all three.
Rosh Hashana is the time for getting our lives in order, correcting our mistakes, and making a plan for the future. With that in mind, here's how these three pillars translate to our life today:
- Torah = Pursuit of Wisdom
- Service of God = Spiritual Connection
- Kindness = Kindness
PURSUIT OF WISDOM
To get started on your High Holiday growth program, try asking yourself some of the following questions, relating to "pursuit of wisdom:"
- When I read or watch TV, is the content something that will make me a better person?
- Do I regularly waste time?
- Have I clearly identified a set of life-long priorities?
- What am I afraid of? How do those fears hold me back from pursuing my dreams?
- Do I have a role model in my life?
- Do I value the wisdom and life experience of my parents and teachers?
- Do I have friends who regularly provide me with honest feedback?
- Do I respond well to criticism, or do I get defensive?
- Do I readily admit when I'm wrong?
- To what extent do I rationalize my mistakes?
- Is there any mistake that I commit habitually to the point where it no longer bothers me?
- Is there one question about life that I yearn to have answered?
- How could I spend one hour each week pursuing wisdom?
- Do I give the same concern and attention to my spiritual health as I do to my physical health?
- How would I define my relationship with God?
- In what ways do I struggle with the Jewish understanding of God?
- In general, do I view events in my life as random occurrences, or as powerful spiritual messages?
- How do I relate to the idea of prayer? Do I pray? Does it work?
- Do I spend time appreciating the beauty of nature?
- Do I ever feel isolated and alone?
- Do I respect idealistic people, or do I think they're naive?
- Do I ever compromise my human values for the sake of monetary gain? For career advancement? For acceptance by others?
- In the past, why have I not stuck to my goals?
- Is there anyone who could help me achieve what I want in life? Why have I not asked for their help?
- How could I spend one hour each week nourishing my soul?
ACTS OF KINDNESS
- Am I regularly concerned about the needs of others?
- How often do I put my own needs on hold in order to help others?
- Do I sometimes intimidate others, or take advantage of the weak and vulnerable?
- Do I give tzedakah (charity) regularly? Do I give gladly or begrudgingly? Am I careful about selecting the best recipient?
- Do I volunteer my time and resources to help others in need? Do I make that an important part of my week?
- Am I careful to keep my word?
- Do I conduct business in a fair and honest manner?
- In business and relationships, do I look for the win-win solution?
- Do I genuinely feel good, or feel bad, when I hear about another person's success?
- Do I gossip and talk negatively about others?
- Do I lose patience with others and get angry? Can I identify those situations where I'm most likely to get angry?
- Do I ever use language that is rude, harsh and obscene?
- Am I jealous of what others have? Do I think somehow I am more deserving?
- Do I ever invade another's privacy by looking or listening to something private?
- Have I ever betrayed the trust of a friend?
- Do I listen with empathy and compassion when someone has a problem?
- Am I careful never to embarrass or insult others?
- How could I spend one hour each week giving selflessly to others?