Set the Tone

summer-road-trip.jpgWe were setting off on a long road trip. Five hours by yourself in the car requires minimal preparation. Five hours with your wife and four kids, a little bit more. It was our first time driving as a family of six, and I was determined to make sure that it was not going to be just any road trip, it would be a GREAT road trip. My wife packed special snacks, the kids chose the CD’s they wanted to listen to (even the order of the songs!), activities, water bottles for all and more. We were ready to start. With the click of the buckles, the start of the CD, we were off. Before we knew it, we were two hours into the journey, ready for our first break. That drive was our most enjoyable ride yet. No spilled drinks from water bottles, enough snacks to keep everyone happy, the music choices were perfect. Not surprisingly, the kids were well behaved.

Compare that to a different road trip that we once took. This time it was also a long trip about five hours, but the kids were kvetching and it wasn’t going so smooth. Ongoing cries of I’m hungry, I’m thirsty etc. I realized that we didn’t take the time to make sure that everyone had snacks and drinks. We left in a hurry and you felt it the whole way.

When on a journey or doing an activity, it all depends how you start out. If you start out prepared and focused, you up your chances for smooth sailing through the project. If you start out on your left foot, its downhill all the way from there.

This reminds me of a saying regarding this week – parshas Bereishis – the first portion of the Torah. “Azoi vi meshtelt zich Shabbos Bereishis, azoi geit es a gantz yahr” – “The way we start out on Shabbos Bereishis, so the whole year will follow.”

We are at the end of Tishrei, the month full of Jewish holidays. Before you get a chance to breathe the next holiday and celebration comes along. Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkos, Simchas Torah, jam packed with powerful moments of awe and joy. And now we come to the first week after all the past action. The first “normal” week. Now is the time to set the tone for the coming year. The way we start out our year is the way it will continue. . The way we start out our Jewish year, is the way our Jewish year will continue.

Take a moment to ask yourself what your Jewish year is going to look like. Have you packed enough Torah classes as inspiring snacks for the way? Have you scheduled some prayer sessions as uplifting music for the journey? Have you planned to attend some Jewish get-togethers, to make the trip more enjoyable?

Now is the time to make sure that our Jewish calendar is set up for the year. Let’s make those commitments now, so that we set the positive tone for the rest of the year.

All the good blessings for the coming year, have already been inscribed by Hashem on Rosh Hashana and Yom kippur. Now it is up to us to decide how we will spend the coming year. May we have a year of inspiration and involvement in good causes. And a lot of that depends on how we focus this Shabbos – Shabbos Bereishis.

Shabbat shalom

Rabbi Levi