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James & Zvi & Shana Tova


First, a fabulous quote from James Baldwin:

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.

My friend Julie Bloom suggests that as the new year approaches, we meditate on what we want to change in our lives and how we can make that happen. Here’s a couple things on my list:

1.  Watching too much television. Why am I watching so many cop shows? Am I anesthetizing myself? What am I avoiding by sitting on my rear end several hours a week?

2.  Not calling my 93-year-old mother. I love my mother, truly. But many days go by when I forget to call her — or remember, but procrastinate until it’s too late. What is stopping me from picking up the phone?

(And you?)

Second, a great teaching about the Hebrew word emet /truth from Zvi Gilboa, passed along to me while standing in the hallway of Congregation Beth Shalom. The three letters that make up the word – aleph, mem, tav – are the first, middle, and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. There is inherent balance in its spelling. Also, the letters themselves are solid. They stand there looking strong and confident.

On the other hand, the word for non-truth – sheker – is a topsy turvy kind of word. In it are 3 of the final four letters of the alphabet, and not even in order. This is a word far too slanted to one side of things. It’s confused; and it’s closely related to the word for drunkenness, a state in which exaggeration and outright lying often feels at home.

Third, a sweet turning of the year to you and yours. May we each face what needs our attention. May the truth steady us, and help us understand the complete picture of our lives from A to Z. Finally, I hope we can also allow in a little bit of sheker, particularly of the artistic sort, just some topsy turvy unsteadiness now and again to make things interesting.

Shana Tova / A Good Year!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. 09/07/2010 8:48 am

    Shana Tova, Sue. Thanks for turning my head toward the New Year. I’ve felt trapped in personal losses, but your most recent post has given me some direction and a license of sorts to pick “do-able” changes. Here’s to emet and sheker for everyone in the new year!

    • sue swartz permalink*
      09/07/2010 8:52 am

      Nancy: thanks for your kind words. Your response is all a blogger could ask for. Shana Tova to you and yours.

  2. Victoria H. Bedford permalink
    09/07/2010 11:09 am

    Here’s a few of things on my list:
    1. To strive to be more mindful.
    2. To do the most important things FIRST, not so late that I’ve run out of time and procrastinate yet again.
    3. To let go of that which I cannot control and may be none of my business.
    4. To remember my blessings every day — my beautiful friends, family, community, YOU!

  3. Herb permalink
    09/08/2010 2:09 pm

    Hi Sue: I concur regarding Baldwin’s dictum. Facing it is the protocol of psychoanalysis. Good luck with your aspirations. Mine are much more elusive, even to verbalize. Shanah Tovah and love to you and your families. Herb

  4. 09/11/2010 10:55 pm

    I’m new here, having come across your blog via the blogroll at the URJ blog site. Shanah tova to you, and thanks for posting that insight about emet vs. sheker.

    • sue swartz permalink*
      09/12/2010 10:02 am

      Welcome friend! And stick around. Year #2 of the adventure starts real soon.

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