Friday, January 18, 2013

Keep it fresh!

"If you don't know where you're going, you'll end up someplace else", Yogi Berra

Creating a mission statement takes a lot of soul-searching, but is a really healthy experience. You should try it. Define a mission statement for yourself or your family: What do you stand for? Where are you headed? Just the exercise alone is worth the effort, even if you land up without committing anything to paper. 
Here's a thought. What would you say is the Mission Statement of Judaism?
The best time to formulate a mission statement is at the beginning, when you are looking to define what you are all about.  So, the logical place to find the Mission Statement for Jews should be right at the moment when the Jewish People was born- 3300 odd years ago, in Egypt.
You would probably expect our Mission Statement to be something like "Connect to G-d" or "Follow the Torah", yet G-d's choice for us seems something of a let-down. Rather than hit us with deep philosophy, a call to personal growth or spiritual ambitions, G-d's first address to His new nation (which you have to assume is the moment He gives us our Mission Statement) simply instructs us to make a calendar. No big dreams. No idealism. Just a calendar. Does that sound like the Judaism you know?
"Hachodesh hazeh lochem..." G-d opens by stating that the month of Nissan (that's when Pesach is) will always be the head of all months for us. Can you say that you are living the Jewish Mission? Sure, you buy a Pick 'n Pay calendar or download the Luach to your phone, but do you research the astronomy of when the New Moon will next be seen? 
Jews follow a lunar calendar; the West follows a solar calendar. The Sun is constant, always blazing and bright, while the Moon waxes and wanes (did you see the large crescent on Thursday evening?). Each new month begins with the rebirth of the Moon after its decline during the preceding month. In fact, that's why we call the month a "chodesh", from the Hebrew for renewal, "chidush", because our month starts when the Moon starts a new cycle.
And that's the Mission Statement of the Jew: Stay fresh. Always look for an opportunity to rejuvenate and re-inspire yourself. And if last month fizzled out and you let yourself down, always believe that this month is a chance to jump-start and rev yourself up again to full throttle. 

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