This post is part of Jewels of Elul, which celebrates the Jewish tradition to dedicate the 29 days of the month of Elul to growth and discovery in preparation for the coming high holy days. This year the program is benefiting Beit T’shuvah, a residential addiction treatment center in Los Angeles. You can subscribe on Jewels of Elul to receive inspirational reflections from public figures each day of the month. You donâ€™t have to be on the blog tour to write a blog post on â€œThe Art of Beginning… Againâ€. We invite everyone to post this month (August 11th – September 8th) with Jewels of Elul to grow and learn.
A little over 5 years ago, I fulfilled a lifelong dream and moved to Israel. Thanks to technology, the world has become a smaller place and in my time in Israel I have been able to remain in almost constant contact with my friends, family and colleagues back in Montreal. Now, technology is great but you can’t have a shabbat dinner via email. You can’t take a hike in the Galil on facebook. You can’t embrace an avatar after a long day at work. Thus, when I moved to Israel, not only did I have to work on acclimating myself to a new country but I also had to work on developing new friendships and interpersonal relationships.
And boy, was I set! On previous trips to Israel I had managed to develop a quirky and interesting group of friends. Upon my arrival I benefited from the equivalent of having a great job waiting for me in Israel. Right from the get go, I had guests at my Shabbat table, invites to dinners, people to hang out and do stuff with – there was never a dull moment! I had planned my move to Israel perfectly and I found myself happy, content and personally fulfilled.
There’s an old Yiddish saying, it goes something like this: Mann tracht und Gott lacht – meaning, man plans and God laughs. Barely two years into my new life in Israel, everything changed. I suffered from a sudden and unforeseen personal setback that resulted in the loss of all my friends in Israel. Nothing tragic of course, no one died, but the end result was that I found myself having to start all over again. Again.
So I persevered – what choice did I have? I won’t gloss over it, at first it was hard, probably one of the most difficult personal periods in my life. However, today I am blessed with a new group of friends. They are interesting, challenging, beautiful and loyal to a fault. It was a struggle getting to this point, it was a new begining within a new begining, but it was well, well worth it.
Which reminds me of something Rabbi Yonah Bookstein said this weekend at Camp Jewlicious, something relevant to Elul. He asked why is that we have to go through this process of asking for forgiveness every year? Doesn’t it get tiring, having to fast and go to the synagogue and do all the things associated with Yom Kippur? Doesn’t it feel like we’re constantly just always going in circles? The answer of course is that we’re not in fact going in circles, but rather that we’re going up a spiral. While it may seem repetitive, what we are actually doing is ascending, growing, rising to a higher and higher level.
Thus while it may seem that what I experienced in Israel was a new begining, what it actually was was a manifestation of our daily struggle to expand and evolve. Every day is in fact a new begining and every day brings with it new possibilities. Yes, new beginings may sometimes seem traumatic, but with the right attitude, they can open up a whole new world. Shanah Tovah, and may this year allow us all the opportunity to ascend to new, loftier heights in our lives.