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Kol HaChadoshot

What's news and 'nu' in the Beth David community

September 2018

Everyone has limits, many of them self-imposed and most of them self-determined. How much money we donate to charitable causes. How much time we stay in shul on days with longer than normal worship services. Our patience with behavior that grates against our personal values and sensitivities. Is it possible to expand our limits? Might we be able to envision something different, something better hopefully, that would allow each of us to grow in ways that could improve and expand our situations in the places we inhabit? Most adults tend to find security in the habits that, over time, become like the old sweaters that always feel comfortable. Routines can be the behavioral comfort foods that always seem to satisfy. That is until we become exposed to a stimulus that carries the potential of expanding horizons and stretching imaginations. For me, the story of Chris Long is one such trigger.
     Chris Long is a defensive lineman for the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, and he played last season for free. He donated his entire 2017 base salary of $1 million to charity. His first six checks went directly towards scholarships for students in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia; and the balance of his salary, ten remaining checks, went to support educational organizations in the three cities where he has played professional football - Boston, St. Louis and Philadelphia. "I want to squeeze every drop out of my potential", he said, "as far as affecting the world around me". While working out in a Charlottesville gym during the early summer, a stranger approached Long to say that he had donated a month's salary to the local United Way. "If you can do it", the man said to Long, "so can I".
     People like Chris Long exemplify the humility that can transform thinking and attitudes; and with most charitable and initiatives of compassion, the courage to stretch is usually followed by rewards previously unimagined. What at first may have seemed impossible, in time proves itself to be possible and often sustainable. Moses owed his life to an Egyptian princess who defied her father and stretched her reach beyond anything she had done before. Theodor Herzl is quoted as having said, "Dream and deed are not as different as many think. All the deeds of men are dreams at first".
     A season of introspection should not be limited to remorse over that which was not achieved, it can and should include aspirations about what might yet be achieved. We deprive ourselves when we imagine a future based upon the limitations by which we live and have lived in the past, we gift ourselves with hope and excitement when we consider what might be possible simply by thinking differently.
     Not all disruptive behavior yields positive outcomes, but improvement is rarely achieved by doing the same things in the same ways as they have always been done. Limits can be tested without boundaries being violated. A starting point is to imagine what could be, without initial concern for encumbrances; and then experiment with the way you look at opportunity. A new year's resolution dedicated towards individual efforts at making the new year better than any year before - think about something that you believe has a chance at improving life as you experience it. Be daring. Be courageous. Going back to the way things were will commonly remain an option, but we cannot know what could be until we give it a try.

Sat, October 20 2018 11 Cheshvan 5779