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A little commitment

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

At a time when everything appears uncertain, here is a small piece of stabilizing advice: during the ten days of repentance, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, it is customary for us to take upon ourselves a new commitment. To make one commitment regarding improvement in one area of life - and to persist in living up to it. It could be any little positive obligation or commitment regarding ourselves, our family, our community, tzedakah, surfing the Internet, prayer, learning or something else. In this way we assure ourselves that all the promises and thoughts for the new year will not disappear. A little something will remain and continue to accompany us.

There are commentators who explain that this new commitment for the new year is like a new garment that a person buys - a garment not for the body, but for the soul.

The commitment needs to be modest, doable, and within reach. Rav Elimelech Biederman tells the story of a student who approached his rabbi at the beginning of the year and asked for a worthwhile commitment to take upon himself. The rabbi answered: think about, contemplate, and then choose an easy commitment that you are certain you can live up to throughout the year. The student returned to the rabbi with a promise to undertake a certain commitment. The rabbi then told him: now cut that commitment in half in order that you will be certain to fulfill it.

Wishing everyone a good year with good commitments.


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