A will to live – by

Whatever you do - in work, hobbies or leisure activities - try to be passionate about it.

May 8, 2019 14:59
A will to live – by

‘DON’T KILL time – it may be the most precious commodity we have.’. (photo credit: PIXABAY)

Independence Day brought a welcome burst of joy into the Jewish calendar, but to get there, we first had to traverse two of the saddest days in the year, Holocaust Remembrance Day and Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel’s Wars. We stared again into the face of terror and grief, coming to grips with the enormous loss of life we have suffered in this past century.

Yet, ironically, death contains a very crucial and positive quality: It forces us to confront and consider life – its meaning, its brevity, its potential for growth and spiritual ascension. In fact, the rabbis comment on the verse “And God saw [the sixth day of Creation] and it was very good”: this refers to death. Similarly, Solomon remarks (Ecclesiastes 7:2): “Better to go to a house of mourning than a house of feasting,” for there one can best contemplate the deeper meaning of life.
And so, over these intense days, I considered what messages I would like to impart to those I love, and wrote this ethical will:

Dear Children and Grandchildren,
I write these words as a lasting message to you. I hope you will read it carefully and know that every word comes from my heart.
My greatest wish is for you to succeed in all you do, and that you will have a life that is rich in every way, full of meaning, fulfillment and love.
Perhaps in following these values, not only will your time on earth be better, but a small part of me will be right alongside you every step of the way.
These values and lessons sum up a lot of what I have learned in my own life; they are worth at least as much as any physical or monetary inheritance that I can leave you.
Here are 18 (hai!) things to consider:
1. Treat others well, and you will not only be treated well yourself, but will feel good about yourself.
2. Strive to find a vocation and job that you love and that fulfills you, one that allows you to contribute to society in a positive way.
“Al tifrosh min hatzibur” – being part of a community will help you in 100 different ways and allow you to not only contribute your many talents but also learn from others.
3. Whatever you do – in work, hobbies or leisure activities – try to be passionate about it, and give it your best effort. As my dad taught me, anything worth doing is worth doing well.
4. Be aware of the planet on which we live, and do not mistreat it. Appreciate but never squander nature’s resources, for they are not limitless. This is a world that your future generations will inherit; try to leave it even better than you found it.
5. Be charitable. Share your wealth, energy and wisdom with others; find good causes beyond yourself to support. Visit the sick, try to encourage someone who’s down, lend a hand when you think you can help.
6. Take care of your family; stay connected with your relatives and look out for each other, especially when they need you most. Blood, as they say, is thicker than water.
At the same time, develop friendships; they make day-to-day living infinitely more enjoyable. But remember: to have a friend, you must be a friend.
7. Believe in yourself. You have amazing strengths and potential that no one else has, and you can literally change the world.
At the same time, be modest, be merciful and treat others with kindness and respect; everyone is a tzelem Elokim, a divine creation, with some positive things to contribute.
8. Act with integrity. That includes living up to your promises and acting in a dignified manner, even in the face of others who do not. Don’t sink to their level; show them how to rise to yours. Most of all, try to be honest in word and deed; that will win you respect from others.
9. Where you find injustice – and the world, sadly, is filled with far too much of it – do what you can to fight against it, even if you are in the minority, or doubt your ability to defeat it. Apathy and complacency are evil’s best friend.
10. Be a leader, and not always a follower – though sometimes it is okay to follow another’s lead. Peer pressure can often help you stay within boundaries, but try not to be overly influenced by it.
11. Take advantage of every single day. Don’t waste or kill time – it may be the most precious commodity we have – so make every minute of every day count.
12. Develop a relationship with God. This can come through studying Torah, praying, performing mitzvot or acts of hessed, as well as by thinking deep thoughts about why you were put on this earth and what your particular mission is.
Remember that all these things are for your own good, not God’s. Emuna, faith in a God who seeks your best interests, can be a powerful source of strength that can help you not only survive but flourish.
Above all, make Shabbat special; it will bring amazing rewards to you.
13. Never stop educating yourself; from all things you can learn and grow. Expand your horizons and experience the amazingly beautiful world the Almighty created; it is filled with wonder.
14. Be positive about life, be upbeat and optimistic, even in really tough times. Attitude is a crucial frame of mind; it can affect everything you do.
15. Be thankful for what you have; if you are, then you will always be rich. And don’t take the things you do have – or the people around you – for granted.
16. Commit yourself to the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Wherever you find yourself – preferably in Israel! – work for the state and be sure that you contribute something special to it. We waited 2,000 years for this fantastic opportunity; take advantage of it and be an active part of it.
17. Look for balance in your life. Find the right time and place for career, friends, community, vacation, sports and exercise, but most of all spend quality time with the members of your family – they outweigh everything else.
18. Remember that you are never alone. You are the product of many generations of great people who once lived, and who now put their faith in you. You represent them, and they believe in you. Make them proud, and you will be proud of yourself as well.
And never forget – I love you.

The writer is director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Ra’anana; jocmtv@netvision.net.il

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