Iyar 1
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Iyar 1

By virtue of the mitzvah of counting the omer of today, may my defects be rectified (Siddur).

The theme of correcting a defect each day is specially employed in the mitzvah of counting the omer, during the forty-nine days that begin with the celebration of the Exodus on Passover and end with the commemoration of the receiving of the Torah at Sinai on Shavuos. On each of these days, we pray that we become better, more refined people.

While the emphasis of this book has been on character development and spiritual growth via daily improvement of personality traits, the mitzvah of counting the omer goes one step further. The above-cited prayer continues: "May I be purified and sanctified from Above; and through this, may there be an abundant outpouring of Divine bounty in all the universe."

The concept here tells us that the impact of a personal defect is not limited to oneself or even to one's immediate environment, but it impacts the entire universe. Just as a watch works only when all its parts are in good shape, the world functions optimally only according to the Divine law, part of which is people's developing good character traits. Any transgression can have a much greater impact than we think.

We therefore share a sense of responsibility. People cannot claim that their lives are their own private business, any more than a passenger in a boat can drill a hole under his or her own seat and tell others to mind their own business.

A vivid proof of this concept comes from today's exploitation of world resources and pollution of the environment. No one can say that an oil spill is a private matter.

Today I shall...

try to remember that my actions and behavior, even when they may seem to me to be a private affair, do affect others, and that I have an obligation to refrain from affecting others negatively.

With stories and insights, Rabbi Twerski's new book Twerski on Machzor makes Rosh Hashanah prayers more meaningful. Click here to order...

Published: May 21, 2009

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