I’m not a psychic, but I can predict with some certainty that this is going to happen to me: I am going to go to shul on Yom Kippur, look in my Machzor prayer book, and see my smorgasbord of sins clearly before me. I will feel slightly ashamed to be in this position, sitting before G-d, feeling like I’ve failed Him. I will tell myself that I have made some improvements, “grown up” as they say, in my lifelong effort to find my place in the world, in service to Him, while I allow others to have their places as well. But on this day, I will remember all the times I have loved myself to a fault, only to see that these are the times, when I think about them, that cause me to hate myself.
It would appear that G-d wants it this way because that’s the way He created us. Self-love makes the world go round, but to keep each of us from letting it spin out of control, G-d also created Yom Kippur. So we can hate that part of ourselves that doesn’t leave room for others.
But does G-d want it to be like this forever? If we truly want to perfect the world, why can’t we perfect ourselves?
It’s a question worth pondering.
Chassidic teaching emphasizes that we can’t perfect ourselves, but that our mission is to try nonetheless. Self-love propels us all, and thereby the world, and we improve ourselves by using Torah’s teachings as our guide. But the selfish component of that self-love? Only G-d can eradicate that, which He will do by bringing Moshiach. We can’t do it ourselves because that component is essential to our basic humanness, and it simply won’t let us.
Until we all agree on the truth of the world, you’ll see it your way and I’ll see it mine. And we’ll both hate ourselves a little on Yom Kippur for not making proper room for each other.
But I’m determined to do more to bring about the time when everyone will have room, when everyone will agree on the truth of the world, which is what Moshiach will accomplish.
As for writing about Moshiach, G-d willing, in the coming year, I hope to deepen my own understanding so I can make the concept more accessible and alive for you.
I would like to think that this is good news, that next year will be a wildly popular one for ponderingjew.org. I’m not sure this is going to be the case.
But I’m going to try not to care.
So here’s something else I’m hoping to do better next year: I’m going to try to mean it when I say I would rather my post really affect one person’s Jewish pondering than be clicked on by thousands who don’t give it much thought. Towards that end, I’m not going to compulsively check my views, which is what I found myself doing whenever I was holding my cell phone in my hand and not doing anything else. My family will be happy about that, and more importantly, I will be happy about that. My self-love was rocking back and forth way too frequently between “success” and “failure.”
This awareness of my vulnerability made me want to be more forthcoming about the real reason why I write this blog. I don’t write because I want to amuse or entertain you (although I try to do that, too). The real reason I write is that I want to bring Moshiach. Plain and simple.
I hope I will keep writing and you will keep reading, and together we will merit to enjoy this true success very soon.
In the meantime, we should all be blessed with a healthy, sweet New Year.