And...

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Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

This month marks 132 years since the passing of Rabbi Abdallah Somech, among the leaders of Iraqi Jewry in the 19th century. Here is a story about him that appeared on the website "Chakima" and is appropriate for the month of Elul:

Once a man approached him, tearfully related his sins and troubles, and asked the rabbi for his advice. The rabbi asked him for details to clarify his story. The man answered and finally said that he had no hope. The rabbi looked at him and said. "And...," but the man did not understand his intent. He gazed at the rabbi with an innocent look and said, "Here my story ends."

Rav Somech smiled and said: "And... ," but the man still did not understand.

The rabbi explained: "When does the story end? When you decide to end it. You can talk about sin, but then you can talk about its rectification. When a story appears to be over, it's always possible to add a new ending. The secret is the word "and" since it opens a new vista and instructs that the story continues.

Sometimes we feel stuck (at work, in marriage, in personal development, with our kids, etc.). We cannot change what happened in the past, but we can always continue and write new chapters, and to change the past into a minimal part of our lives, just one chapter in our much larger story. At a time of distress, the connecting "and" makes it possible not to get stuck in place, but rather to always continue our story.

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