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The significance of my birthday... and yours

סיון רהב מאיר בילדותה

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Today, the 30th of Sivan, is my birthday. I did not attach much importance to this day until Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Jacobson -- to whom I am so grateful for changing my attitude -- explained what is so special about birthdays, particularly for our generation.

"In 1988," he related, "the Lubavitcher Rebbe proclaimed a new birthday campaign. He did this just over a month after his wife passed away when, on the day of her birth, he launched 'The Birthday Campaign' to commemorate and honor her. He now insisted that we should mark our birthdays with large parties and an abundance of joy.

But why did he create this campaign? In my opinion, our generation is challenged when it comes to happiness. One of the greatest challenges is to be happy, remembering that you did not come into this world by chance, but in order for your unique soul to fulfill a unique mission.

Today there is so much confusion, bewilderment, sensitivity, and vulnerability. It sometimes seems that the greater the affluence, the greater the suffering. A birthday celebration is meant to remind you that God believes in you and your talents, that your existence is precious to Him.

There are special customs associated with this day: On our birthdays, we are supposed to give tzedakah, to pray, to read psalms, to engage in soul-searching, to rejoice with family and friends, to adopt a resolution for self-improvement that we will carefully keep from this day forward."

And there is one more important birthday custom: Blessing others. So I would like to bless each one of you, that you will fulfill all the desires of your heart for worthwhile purposes. Mazal tov to you on the day when you were sent into this world.


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