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Being Relevant is Being Alive

I’m not sure when it happened, but somehow we all transitioned from carefree summer days into the solemnity of the High Holiday Season.

There we were, perfecting our backstroke and barbecuing, when suddenly we became dizzied with school supplies and the search for a fish head. Very soon, we will be standing next to our neighbors in the synagogue, praying for everyone to be written in the Book of Life for another year.

At least, that’s one way to look at it.

On a deeper level, we know that we’re not only praying to remain alive but also for the faculties needed to do it right.

Our holiday prayers mention a formula to ensure one’s place in that coveted book: (Teshuva, Tefilla, U’Tzedakka) Repentence, Prayer, and Charity remove the evil of the decree!

It’s a process: We focus ourselves back to our Source, bringing G-d closer into our lives. In full knowledge that He cares for us, we pray for ourselves and those around us. Everything comes full circle when our intentions are reflected in our actions, when we actively reach into our resources for the sake of others.

The judgment we speak of from Rosh Hashana and throughout the holiday of Sukkos involves G-d’s evaluation of the world. He seeks out those who immerse themselves in righteousness, kindness and good deeds, and grants the world’s existence on their behalf.

Nothing expresses the value and relevance of our existence more than when we give charity, in any form.  Even the smallest act of kindness can have a monumental impact. Especially at this time of year, each one of us has this potential to affect the world’s existence.

The Torah is filled with great pivotal moments in Jewish history when everything depended on one person and the entire world remained revolving on the axis of him or her, as illustrated in the following story:

Two Brothers

Once there were two brothers who inherited their father’s land. The brothers divided the land in half and each one farmed his own section. Over time, the older brother married and had six children, while the younger brother never married.

One night, the younger brother lay awake. “It’s not fair that each of us has half the land to farm,” he thought. “My brother has six children to feed and I have none. He should have more grain than I do.”

So that night the younger brother went to his silo, gathered a large bundle of wheat, and climbed the hill that separated the two farms and over to his brother’s farm. Leaving the wheat in his brother’s silo, the younger brother returned home, feeling pleased with himself.

Earlier that very same night, the older brother was also lying awake. “It’s not fair that each of us has half the land to farm,” he thought. “In my old age, my wife and I will have our grown children to take care of us, not to mention grandchildren, while my brother will probably have none. He should at least sell more grain from the fields now so he can provide for himself with dignity in his old age.”

So that night, too, he secretly gathered a large bundle of wheat, climbed the hill, left it in his brother’s silo, and returned home, feeling pleased with himself.

The next morning, the younger brother was surprised to see the amount of grain in his barn unchanged. “I must not have taken as much wheat as I thought,” he said, bemused. “Tonight I’ll be sure to take more.”

That very same moment, his older brother was also standing in his barn, musing much the same thoughts.

After night fell, each brother gathered a greater amount of wheat from his barn and in the dark, secretly delivered it to his brother’s barn. The next morning, the brothers were again puzzled and perplexed. “How can I be mistaken?” each one scratched his head. “There’s the same amount of grain here as there was before I cleared the pile for my brother. This is impossible! Tonight I’ll make no mistake – I’ll take the pile down to the very floor. That way I’ll be sure the grain gets delivered to my brother.”

The third night, more determined than ever, each brother gathered a large pile of wheat from his barn, loaded it onto a cart, and slowly pulled his haul through the fields and up the hill to his brother’s barn. At the top of the hill, under the shadow of a moon, each brother noticed a figure in the distance. Who could it be?

When the two brothers recognized the form of the other brother and the load he was pulling behind, they realized what had happened. Without a word, they dropped the ropes to their carts and embraced.

It is said that where they stood as they embraced eventually became the site of Jerusalem’s holy temples.

The magnitude of one act of giving cannot be fully defined! It is how we express our relevance, that we are truly alive.

As you stand in the synagogue with your holiday supplications, have in mind the disadvantaged girls at the Home, who are similarly standing in their own synagogue wearing new yom tov clothing and enjoying festive meals which YOU helped provide.

Reach within your heart to pray for them and for YOU to have the health and the blessing of stability, so that you can continue to serve as a divine messenger in ensuring that they have what they need for the coming year.

May your partnership in all we do merit countless sweet blessings for you and your loved ones.

Shana Tova!

Rachel Weinstein

Director of Development

1 comment

  1. Marilyn Kaufman

    My Mother’s maiden name is Zeffren from Rock Island, Il. U.S.A. I am interested in knowing if the Rubin Zeffren Children’s Home is named for one of her family members. Thank You and Shalom, Marilyn Kaufman

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