You are about to embark on the journey of a lifetime! Our achievements and fulfillment in life emerge from the choices we make every day. When we measure our lives, too often we ask ourselves “Where has the time gone?” We ponder – What if and Why not? The happiest moments in our lives are when we sense deep inside that our inner lives, our souls and our actions are aligned. We rejoice when we maximize each day to its fullest. Too often, as Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” The forty days prior to Yom Kippur are a gift to unlock the song inside each and every person.
What is the magic of 40? In Judaism, 40 symbolize change and renewal. Think about the number for a moment. It always appears in relationship to a transition. In Biblical times, the rain cleansed the earth for 40 days and 40 nights. In fact, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch notes that G-d in essence immersed the world in a mikvah whose volume consists of 40 measures of water as a symbol of the new birth of the world. Moses ascended Mount Sinai for forty day and nights to receive the Torah and the Jews journeyed in the desert for forty years. Judaism also teaches that 40 days after conception, the soul enters a child in the womb.
Here is your gift. The forty days commencing with the beginning of the month of Elul (August 5th) and culminating with Yom Kippur (September 14th) mark another period of new possibility and potential for you. As noted in the High Holiday Guide, from thousands of years ago when Moshe beseeched G-d to forgive the Jewish people for the sin of the Golden Calf until today, these 40 days are infused by G-d with unlimited personal potential.
However, our lives are the sum of daily decisions. It is measured in the choices we make every day.
One of the great mystics taught that we do not only possess a life mission but a daily mission. We are destined to achieve greatness and fulfill a unique purpose today that we could not have done yesterday nor will we will be able to do tomorrow. The Torah teaches: “See I have given before you TODAY the choice of Life or Death”.
If not now, when? The website 40 Days to a Better You will enable you to find new ways to enlighten your life and maximize your G-d given potential on earth. I hope you use the 40 day Pledge to learn and share new ideas to grow every day. We are given a gift by G-d every morning when we arise – the blessing of life. Open your eyes give thanks to G-d for every breath and seize the moment to insure that this High Holiday season we unlock the song residing in each and every one of us.
Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy new year,
Rabbi Daniel Cohen