Happy New Year 2020 Blessings
It’s that time of year, again. Resolutions, Times Square, fireworks, champagne, and kisses at midnight, followed by College football. Or, maybe you prefer Chamomile tea and early to bed, with the Rose Bowl parade set on the DVR. Either way, our New Year’s Eve/Day routines can become engrained over time. One method that I hope you’ll embrace is to start the year with a blessing.
This week’s playlist is a remarkable collection of blessings: listen carefully and choose one that particularly resonates with you. Then, add it to your morning or evening routine. Let the words sink into your soul. Be reminded of God’s promises. Let the Holy Spirit stir up hope. Breathe.
As the days unfold, the music and words become part of the soundtrack of your life. Many, many songs and hymns focus on blessing and praising God. But at the beginning of this new year, I need to sink into the words of grace that remind me of God’s always-present love. I listen to and sing these songs to allow the truth to sink deep into my bones. The past two years have been difficult. I am tired. But God’s blessings are eternal. A line from Steve Bell’s For the Journey reflects my feeling:
“If you’re like me, you need to hear somebody pray; May the Lord bless and keep you … ”
And Angel’s Blessings, by Debbie Friedman, reminds me:
“All around us is Shechinah.”
This week’s playlist is full of blessings, in the music of John Rutter, Steve Bell, Laura Story, Chris and Michael Cleveland, Debbie Friedman, Peter Lutkin, Dennis Jernigan, and Philip Stopford.
As we approach the New Year, I want to extend to you my blessings for a sweet and healthy year.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have sent me your kind wishes and blessings for the New Year. We are told that all those that bless shall be blessed. May your blessings be fulfilled many times over in your life.
May you have a year of love and peace, a year of marriage and joy, a year of healthy children and nachos, a year of material and spiritual success, a year of health and wealth, a year of life with purpose. Those that need special blessings in health or other matters may G-d see what you need and fulfill it in the fullest measure. Above all, may we all have a year of global peace and redemption.
* * *
The Baal Shem Tov once sent his students to observe a local innkeeper as part of their preparation work for Rosh Hashana. The students dutifully checked into the inn. Initially, they found nothing remarkable. After saying the Saturday night Selichot (special penitential prayers recited before the New Year), they went to sleep, only to be awakened by the innkeeper moving about in the lobby. They tip-toed out of their rooms to find the innkeeper opening up a cabinet and removed two big ledgers.
From one ledger, he proceeded to read all his sins of the past year: he confessed that he was insensitive to his family, that he didn’t fulfill all his obligations to his community, that he didn’t study enough Torah, he once came late to prayers, etc. Then he opened the second ledger, saying to G-d, “These are my failings, now here’s what You didn’t do … I asked for a better living wage this year, and you didn’t give it to me. My wife is still ill. My children need shoes. The cow stopped giving milk…”
In the end, he concluded, “Look, I didn’t live up to my obligations, and You didn’t live up to Yours. So let’s call it even. I’ll close my book, You’ll close Your book, and we’ll start a new year again with a clean slate.”
The relationship between G-d and us is a partnership. When G-d created human beings in His image, He invested something Divine in us. There is a partnership between Him and us to perfect the world.
G-d founded a business and said to us: “I am the investor, but you stand behind the counter.”
Partners are accountable to each other. We can call G-d to accountability, but we must equally know that we are being called upon to understand how we are caring for His investment in us.
Before we confront our partner G-d, it would be wise to do our part of the “deal” and show the complete effort we made. Then we can come well-armed to our partner and challenge Him to reciprocate.
* * *
As we enter the New Year, I would like to declare my renewed commitment to fulfilling my mission: To create an environment where all are welcome to explore our collective and unique spiritual journey. To produce programs, events, and publications that will help us all discover our calling and integrate it into our personal and professional lives.
I am excited to share that this year, we will be taking this work to an entirely new dimension – stay tuned.
I thank you for all your support, including financial aid, which provides the fuel so that we can continue our important work. At this time of year, it is especially appropriate to add in giving tzedakah (charity), which opens up new channels of blessings for the New Year.
I thank all our staff and friends – high-quality people – dedicated to helping others and transcending their comfort zones.
Above all, I want to thank all the individual souls that I have met directly or indirectly through my travels and writings. The written word – especially sent via e-mail – presents a unique challenge. The reader knows much more about the writer than the writer knows about the reader. It’s quite unbalanced. That is why I much appreciate receiving your feedback and thoughts, even your critique and rebuttals.
However, I must say that all of you have enriched my life and the work that I do. Even if you have not written to me, perhaps vibes flow back through cyberspace. You have taught me – and continue to show me – the beauty and the agony of life; the dignity of struggle and the courage of pain; the vulnerability of love and the strength of selflessness; the insecurity of being a taker and the security of being a giver. You have taught me to be more sensitive and understanding of the complexities of life, and also to be more joyful and less intense about the pure innocence that we all carry.