Monday, January 14, 2008

Life has its ups and downs

It's back to school tomorrow! (for those of us in the Southern hemisphere)

My younger children are excited, they have their cases packed and their lunches ready. They'll probably be up at the crack of dawn. The older kids have already reached the "ho-hum, how many days will the end of the year" stage and aren't overly excited.

I've start teaching again tomorrow. Enough said.

Whatever it is you do, you probably share that sense of excitement and conquer-the-world enthusiasm when you've had a good break and are about to start things afresh.

The reality is, no matter how excited or inspired you feel, chances are something will get in the way sooner or later. Inspiration wears off, obstacles test our optimism and boredom sets in.

Is it possible to keep the inspiration alive? Or are burnout and the doldrums realities we need to accept.

The answer may lie in the very first mitzvah that the Jewish people were given as a nation. That instruction was not belief in G-d (as many people think), but establishing a calendar. It must make you wonder: Why does the calendar take precedence over the basics of Jewish faith?

Our Jewish calendar follows the moon. Most of our festivals coincide with full moon, and we start each month with Rosh Chodesh, at the birth of the new moon.

The moon has its moments- birth, waxing, fullness and waning- and so do we. We run our calendar by the moon, because we are like the moon.

The moon grows steadily for the first half of each month, peaks and then diminishes. We also start new things with enthusiasm, then fizzle out.

What we do wrong is we stay fizzled out. G-d's very first message to the nation of Israel is "Hachodesh hazeh lochem rosh chodoshim". Simply that means: This month is for you the first month of the Jewish year.

Yet, the deeper message is: Renewal (chodesh, month comes from the Hebrew chidush, meaning new) is yours on a monthly basis. Don't get stuck in failure, G-d empowers you to renew and reinvigorate yourself on a regular basis.

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