What Makes a Happy Birthday?


I started this piece several times, often in my head in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep. It’s always hard to follow up a successful blog post, and last week’s post got lots of views and shares. It feels good to be popular, even though I know this blog is about the power of one (To help remind me of this, every Thursday, before I publish my post, I write to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, asking for his assistance in helping my words to affect the “right person or people to bring Moshiach NOW”).

Ordinarily, I would make my best effort, but be prepared for a let-down. But today is no ordinary day. I was anxious about my ability to maximize its power.

Because the most auspicious time for a person to be spiritually strengthened is on a Jewish birthday, and today, at sundown, starts mine. Some might even call this birthday a big one: my sixtieth.  It’s even in a hakhel year, a year when all Jews are especially blessed to “get it together” to accomplish spiritual goals.

So how do I create a blogbuster?

I dismissed writing about aging. Everyone’s heard everything about what doesn’t work as well anymore. The jokes conceal the truth that there’s nothing funny about getting old. By some Jewish accounts, it’s even a sin; the last thing G-d wants is for us to become set in our ways, unwilling to experience His newness every day. To the extent that He blesses us with control over our outlook on life, it’s a mitzvah to choose a young perspective. Since birthdays are meant to be a time of making hachlatas, good resolutions, I can commit to that one for starters.

I want to take full advantage of the day, because a birthday is a day when mazalo gover, the spiritual source of one’s soul shines with power to help that person fulfill his or her mission in this world. What makes a birthday even more empowering is the fact that this mazal has no connection to the forces of nature, but instead stems from G-d’s supernal treasure chest, the place where Jewish souls originate. (In case you wonder why we Jews have miraculously survived against all odds throughout the millennia, this is the reason; our souls aren’t rooted in the natural world.)

The fact that I have even a trickle of understanding of any of this is because of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Now, at my 60-year milestone, I appreciate how my connection to Chabad was meant to be. It’s not just that I was born weighing 6 pounds, 13 ounces,  and there are 613 mitzvahs in the Torah. It’s that the underpinnings of my soul, for as long as I can remember, longed for truth and meaning in the world. I didn’t know his name as a child, but I longed for Moshiach.

The same Rebbe who taught me about Moshiach and taught me that Moshiach is ready to come now, also taught me that my Jewish birthday is my most powerful moment to make Moshiach’s presence felt, within myself and within my sphere of influence.

So I’ll ask you for a birthday present (if I’ve learned one thing over the years, it’s that you can’t be afraid to ask). First, if you know someone who might be interested in learning more about Moshiach, or Jewish birthdays, or staying young, please share this post. But I want to ask you for something more. If you’re at all inclined to ask G-d to fix this broken world by sending Moshiach, please do that.

Thank you for reading, for pondering, and for sharing, especially when you don’t feel like it. May you be blessed with revealed good in all ways, always.

About the Author
Lieba Rudolph, her husband, Zev, and their young family returned to observant Jewish life when they were both over thirty. Now, after spending equal time in both worlds, she shares the joys and challenges of her journey, answering everyone's unasked question: why would anyone normal want to become religious?