For all I know, this past year was filled with blessing, but it sure started out shitty and on the second night of Rosh Hashanah I finally figured out why. Not only did I have to work on last RH, but I didn’t come armed with an Elul full of mussar. Instead of embracing the whole RH thing, I’ve always written off until I woke up in the middle of Neilah feeling like I’ve squandered the whole Elul, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur. This year it finally worked, first off, I came on time to shul – record breaking for someone who purposefully comes late because “shul is boring” and I can’t sit there for hours on end. I can’t quantify how Rosh Hashanah “worked” but it felt good to go through all my shitty character traits and vow to work on them.
It was definitely hashgacha pratis for me to sit next to a guy who just lost his wife, when I was in yeshiva I used to wonder if all the crying was fake. Heck, I still wondered if the crying coming from people who seemed to have perfect lives was fake, but the widower next to me was definitely not faking it and in turn I started thinking about how precious life was and how quick we could lose it all and I myself started crying. My biggest problem that day was trying to stop looking at the Kohanim while they duchened, while this guy just lost his wife.
There were other things that helped me get serious for once, because I’ll be honest, I usually use the long RH davening to think of posts to write after RH. Not auctioning off aliyos helps in a huge way, it keeps the tone of RH davening and you can forget about your low salary and inability to get a good shul job for a moment. I did get gelila in the end and they even hooked a brother up with a genuine mi-shebarach without my having to pay a cent. The kiddush also sucked, which allowed me be nice to my fellow peeps and not mow them down or rush to grab the good stuff.
Back in the day it used to be that I broke all of my Rosh Hashanah resolutions within 3 days or less, I used to pick things way above my head and than screw up instantly and that was that. I can remember throwing out all of my porn magazines on several occasions and going to replenish my collection right after Yom Kippur. There were years I decided not to speak Loshon Horah, but if you don’t do a taanis dibbur on Yom Kippur there’s no way to do that. Then there was one year I decided I wasn’t going to curse and it worked for a bit, purely because I wasn’t a professional cook at the time.
The best thing about being married is that you can really just practice with your wife and than try it in your public life, such as trying not to talk loshon horah with your wife, or trying not to curse with your wife, or trying to be gracious, and so on. So as you can see, this year is devoted to being a better person to the people in my general vicinity, not that I’m too bad, but with everything in life there’s room for improvement.
I decided that the people I hate are going to get good treatment, that means I may have to travel to Israel and hug some draft dodging, dumpster burning, chair throwing, charedim. I may also have to hug some uber liberal anti-gun feminists while I’m at it. After reading some good old fashioned mussar, I realized that I wish that folks could disagree ideologically without hating the other side from which they hold. I wish that we could exit our echo chambers and attack ideas, not people (unless those people want to blow us up).
May you all be inscribed in the book of life and have a gut gebenched yur.
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