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Elul 29

If my brother Esau encounters you and asks you, "To whom do you belong, and whither are you going, and what are these things before you?" (Genesis 32:18)

In the homiletic writings, Jacob symbolizes the spiritual, and Esau the secular. Esau tries to seduce a person by saying, "Who do you think you are, anyway? Just where do you think spirituality will get you?"

The spiritual person poses these same questions, but in a different tone. "Where do I belong? Am I but part of the animal kingdom, differing from lower forms of life only by virtue of intellect, or do I belong to a higher order of being? Where am I headed with my life? Do I have an ultimate goal? And what are all these things before me? Am I using objects of the physical world as tools that I can use to reach my goal, or are they ends in themselves to me?"

The very arguments that can draw us away from a spiritual life can be turned back and serve as reasons for embracing spirituality. The physical world has abundant glitter, but emptiness lies beneath its superficial shine. True substance to living lies beyond these temporary pleasures.

Today is the last day of the year, a time for reckoning and asking, "What have I done during the past year that still has value for me today? All the transitory enjoyments of which I partook in the past – what value do they have today?"

A reasonable person chooses things that are of lasting value.

Today I shall...

think about the past year and consider what I would prefer the coming year to be.

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

May 21, 2009

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