One of the many gifts my father left me was a few hundred index cards with rabbinic quotations, stories, quips and teachings. Looking through them the other day I found this clipping from one James Hodgson, who lived in Salt Lake City:
“I was lounging in front of the TV watching a second-run Western when Dad came in from shoveling snow. He looked at me quizzically and said, ‘In 24 hours you won’t even remember what you’re looking at now. How about doing something for the next 20 minutes that you’ll remember 20 years from now and enjoy every time you think about it?’
“‘What is it?’ I asked.
“‘Well, son, there’s eight inches of snow on old Mrs. Woodbury’s walk,’ he said. ‘Why don’t you see if you can shovel it and get back without her knowing?’
“I did it in 15 minutes. She never knew who had done it. And Dad was right: I’ve enjoyed it every time I’ve thought about it.”
To celebrate the new year, do a mitzvah that will stay with you for a lifetime.
Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter: @RabbiWolpe. His latest book, “David: The Divided Heart” (Yale University Press), has recently been published.