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Yom Kippur

Are you going through life at the speed limits you set for yourself? Or are you at full throttle?

This question has been going through my head over the last two months. And I am so grateful that it has. This is the “charged” life, where you question all of your limitations. Your limited beliefs. Your limited relationships. Your limited perspective of yourself, of who you can be, of how much you can forgive, and how much love of G-d you can bring to your family and to your world.

The question you need to ask yourself is this: What do I dare myself to do? I.e. Who do I dare myself to forgive? How low am I willing to lower my ego, to be the best father/husband/ Rebbi/ brother/ brother-in-law/ son-in-law/ employer/ employee/ Jew, I can be?

This “dare-question” is the trillion-dollar question. If you do not dare, you are not putting your greatness on the other side of the seesaw of your inflated ego. Only when you dare yourself, do you bring endless energy into your life. Where does that energy come from? G-d gives it to you. How so?

We know of only one prayer that G-d prays.  And His prayer is that He behave with His children with a full throttle of mercy, with no limits of judgement. From where do we know that G-d prays?  וַהֲבִיאוֹתִים אֶל הַר קָדְשִׁי וְשִׂמַּחְתִּים בְּבֵית תְּפִלָּתִי ” (ישעיה נו,ז) And I will bring them to My holy mountain. And I will make them happy in the house of My prayer… (Yeshayah 56,7) G-d’s prayer.  What does He pray? May it be the will before Me, that my Mercy overcome My anger. This is the underlying prayer of Yom Kippur, that the Kohen Gadol asks in the Holy of Holies. (Berachot 7a) This is the main work that we need to work on for the great Yom Kippur ahead of us.

G-d loves it when we challenge ourselves and when we do, His Attribute of Mercy overpowers His Judgement. This is what it means when we say, כרחם אב על בנים כן תרחם עלינו )Selichot Shiva Assar Btamuz) G-d has mercy on us, like the greatest mercy in the world, the mercy of a father to his son. (See Tehillim 103;13) Our Rabbis tell us which Av, which father’s mercy, is meant in the passuk. Like Avraham Avinu had on Yishmael. Like David had on Avshalom. The greater that you have mercy for those that don’t deserve it, the greater the mercy G-d will have on you. As Mama Rachel, Rachel our Matriarch’s mercy, “challenged” G-d’s Mercy, in Yaakov Shwekey’s classic:

When her plaintive cry gained divine consent
A challenge to her Maker
Can the mercy of mere flesh and blood
Run deeper than Yours, our Creator?

How low are you willing to lower your ego for the sake of your relationships? Rachel was willing to give up her relationship with her husband, her Matriarch ID, even her life, just so that her sister Leah wouldn’t cry anymore. And with this conquering of her natural impulses, she was able to confront G-d’s Mercy.  And G-d accepted this confrontation, and displayed how great His Mercy is, as he promised to heed her call, and bring back His Children to their land.

Your ability to put your ego aside for the sake of something greater is what G-d loves about you most. הֲבֵן֩ יַקִּ֨יר לִ֜י אֶפְרַ֗יִם אִ֚ם יֶ֣לֶד שַׁעֲשֻׁעִ֔ים כִּֽי־מִדֵּ֤י דַבְּרִי֙ בּ֔וֹ זָכֹ֥ר אֶזְכְּרֶ֖נּוּ ע֑וֹד עַל־כֵּ֗ן הָמ֤וּ מֵעַי֙ ל֔וֹ רַחֵ֥ם אֲֽרַחֲמֶ֖נּוּ נְאֻם־יְהֹוָֽה׃. (Yirmiyahu 31 ,19) Is Efrayim dear to me? Is he a darling child, for whenever I speak of him, I remember him even more intensely? That is why My innards are moved because of him; I will surely have mercy on him. The word of G-d.

Who is this Ephraim, that G-d is willing to be so nice to? The Rokeach has a brilliant explanation. We are all Efraim, for we all come from Avraham, Yitzhak and Yaakov, who were all humble as Efer, as ashes. What does it mean, humility, like ashes? Ashes come from a powerful tree, from a powerful past. Now, they are ashes.  We all have it in our genes the ability to be like ashes, the ability to put our inflated ego aside, our limitations of pride, of honor, of fear of shame, for a greater purpose. That is how G-d perceives us; this is why G-d loves us, for we are His people of “full- throttle humility”, for we are willing to make ourselves as insignificant as ashes.

As I wrote this article, I got tapped on the shoulder. It was my son who came back from school. “Abba, do you know that your son stole from you?” No. It is not fair for me to hear you say this about your brother, if he is not here.  So we walked over to his brother, the “thief”, who was sitting on the floor in his room, playing Playmobil. “Abba, he took, the playmobil sword that was part of a set that you bought for the whole family, not just for him, which means, theoretically, that he stole from you. I want it too, but he is not letting me play with it, because he is playing with it.

I stepped down to the son who called the other son a thief. “Tzaddik! I do not remember where that sword is from. And your brother claims that it is from a playmobil that I bought for him. I dare you to ask him nicely to let you play with it! Do you think you could be strong enough to ask him nicely? I am sure, then, that he could find in his heart the strength to let you play with it, even though he thinks it is his, once he sees how strong you are in being able to ask nicely for what you think belongs to you.”

I do not know if, at my age, I am much better than my child. At that young age, we fight about Playmobil type stuff. And at older ages, as we get bigger, the stuff we fight about also gets bigger, like positions of honor, rights, pride. I do not know if you or I will be able to do full Teshuva before Yom Kippur. It doesn’t really matter. The main thing is that you did some Teshuva, because that means that you humbled yourself, which means you realized that you could have been more, and you have much more to go, and you have much more to let go of. Humility, Efer, is what Teshuva is all about, and the more you become Efer, the higher level of Teshuva you have reached. (Kad Hakemach Rosh Hashana A)

Every year at the Mikveh before Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur I have this crazy thought. We all start from nothing; we are all created the same. I do not deserve to have more, or be more, than anybody else in the Mikveh. Whatever “more” I was given by G-d means that I am held “to give more”. (Iggeret Haramban) I could have been born into that other person’s shoes, that other person’s clothes, that other person’s family, Yetzer Hara, facial features, that other person’s horoscope, and only G-d knows what else that person is dealing with. How haughty to think otherwise, and to be judgmental! And when you strip yourself of your inflated ego, you can literally be disconnected from your sins, as your faulty behavior was just part of your inflated ego that you took off before immersing. Now you can come to Yom Kippur with your sins in your hands and say to G-d, I did it! I lived life full-throttle! Now, G-d! Show the world how great You are, and let your mercy go full throttle!

I dare you. I dare you to respect the person who is different, to speak nicely to the person you think stole your Playmobil, pride, or is a clash to your personality. I dare you to stop being judgmental. I dare you to accept all that G-d gave you, and accept all that G-d did not give you. I dare you to dare yourself every day, to live your life to its fullest. And I promise you. Once you do, G-d in His endless Mercy will bestow you with such energy, you will not believe that you are actually you.



How do I live life full throttle?

Here are the Selfie Steps. The self-help steps that will give you endless energy.

  1. Every day of your life, dare yourself to do something you never thought you could do before, in every area of life. Spiritual goals. Business goals. Family quality time goals. Health Goals. Relationship goals.
  2. Ask yourself – what do you gain by not living life full throttle? What type of an amazing life are you losing out by not pushing through your self-imposed limitations?  In spiritual. Business. Family. Health. Relationships.

Pray to G-d. Ask Him that His endless mercy outweigh His judgement. Ask Him to grant you the courage and strength to change the things that you can change in life.

About the author, Yosef

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