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Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

My sermon for the Ten Days of Repentance

Change is a Jewish activity

I’m not a rabbi, but if I were one, this is what I would say.

Submit to our King/Fate

What is the essence of Rosh haShannah? To declare G^d King. But what does that mean? Just to call Him King? That’s as easy as it is meaningless.

You don’t need to be religious to really declare G^d King. It means acknowledging that sometimes, things don’t need to or won’t go your way.

We didn’t decide what happens before we were around, nor most of what happens now we’re here, and neither what will happen in the future. We may have some influence, especially in the short term and close by. But, the overall direction of the world is full of unexpected twists and turns.

One level higher, G^d is King means we don’t always do what we want, what is the easiest, and what gives us the most comfort, power, or status.

Yet, G^d isn’t a distant Monarch as other Monotheistic religions often feel. He can be found close by, especially in the month before Rosh haShannah.

If He’s the B^ss, everything comes from Him. But, Yom Kippur is not an online shop where you order (!) whatever you want. Before you ask for anything, also think about what your loved ones, close ones, and fellows, other people, regions, and nations, and all humans lack and need.

Make G^d’s Will your will, so that He will make your will His will.

Be Grateful to our Father

G^d is not only our King; He’s also our Father. That means that we need to combine obedience with gratefulness. But how to be grateful if our lives and the world are still imperfect? Two answers. 1. Focus on what you have instead of on what is missing. 2. Team op with G^d to perfect the world.

But, how do we guard that we stay and look grateful? Being happy. How?

The Ramchal already taught 300 years ago that first, we need to change our behavior to get a change in emotion, not the other way around. So, don’t wait until you feel ready to change. Act now. In this case: smile and mean it. Pull up the corners of your mouth. Tell yourself, in detail, how fortunate you are until you can be like a child, happy without reasons.

The advantages of being happy are countless. When you’re happy it’s very hard to get arrogant, jealous, angry (you’ll cry instead), hateful, tense, etc.

Adjust your Priorities

Hillel already teaches us to get our priorities right. 1. If you don’t support yourselves, who should be for you instead? (When happily married, just say: My partner will be for me and I for my partner!) 2. If you’re only here for yourselves, what value do your lives have? 3. If not now, when?

Let’s try to phrase this in a new way.

1. Try to improve and improve the world for yourself. Don’t stop eating meat because eating meat hurts the animals and the atmosphere. Do it because you don’t want to be someone who hurts beasts or the climate.

2. Don’t do it just for yourself or even others. Don’t give to charity because it’s needed or you like to, but because you want a world full of generosity. Don’t just pray for you or us. The whole world is awaiting your blessings.

3. Don’t try to make everything perfect overnight. If you can’t make radical changes, make gradual ones. One bite of meat less in a meal. Everyone who still eats plenty of meat can do that.

Individualize

All of the above is one-size-fits-all. But not all people are the same. Try to find someone who cares about you and dares to tell you how to improve.

Those who always need to show off, wait your turn for a change. Those who are used to making themselves invisible, stand up and speak up.

Those who always want to have, try to give. Those who always give, learn to receive and get people around you who’ll give to you.

Those who always must do what they like only, push yourselves to do something good that you dislike doing. Those who always do what’s responsible, when it’s safe, once, listen to what you feel like doing.

Those who eat too much, eat some less. Those who sleep too little, sleep some extra. Those who’re always numb, cry a little.

If you’re under 60, to know what you overdo, ask someone who loves you and is honest. If you’re over 60, you typically know it yourself.

It’s up to us

Face it. Most of what’s wrong in the world is caused by people. Wars, hunger, pandemics, poverty, poor international solidarity, lack of human rights, hatred, supremacy, loneliness—there is little we didn’t cause.

Only we need to shape up to almost create Paradise on Earth. But progress is slow and goes with ups and downs. We’re even now living on the brink of climate extinction. Even if we didn’t cause it (a hard-to-maintain denial with 97% of all scientists against you), we should still stop the carnage.

If people are essential for correcting and failing to correct climate dangers, we must make sure that our activism is people-friendly. No sexism, racism, Antisemitism, elitism, (neo-) colonialism, capitalism, etc.

There is no such thing as changing others. We must all improve ourselves. Only when doing so, we can have some hope of inspiring and guiding others. And then G^d/Fate should chip in to save us all.

If it’s still before Rosh haShannah, learn about a P’ruzbul contract, and find and sign one via your rabbi or the Internet before the Sabbatical Year ends.

Have a great year.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, an almost daily blog contributor to the Times of Israel, and previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. He doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit about what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and education contribute to his visions. * If you don't know the Dutch, get an American peek behind the scenes here: https://youtu.be/QMPp6h6r72M * To find less-recent posts on subject XXX among his over 1600 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe, here: https://mmvanzuiden.wordpress.com/. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. Yet, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people who don't deserve that. He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust, and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. * One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. He loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, anti-elitism, anti-bigotry and supremacy, for Zionism, Intersectionality, and non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (https://diethylstilbestrol.co.uk/studies/des-and-psychological-health/), born in 1953 to parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, empowering therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids non-violently. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's being a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. He lives with his library in Jerusalem. Feel free to contact him. * His writing has been made possible by a (second-generation) Holocaust survivors' allowance from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble.
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