With Rosh Hashanah now in view and we are about to begin the year 5780, may you, your family and all your good offices be blessed for a good sweet new year both physically and spiritually.
There are some topics people are happy to discuss with their friends and fellow congregants. Popular topics include local sports teams, the weather, the stock market, recent developments at local schools, and politics.
One topic that tends to be off limits is mental illness. We don’t generally discuss mental illness openly, and we often choose not to recite the prayer for healing for people dealing with issues of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders, schizophrenia and other mental health issues. We at Chabad Mineola are working hard to change that.
While the issue of mental health and mental illness is still in the background in much of the Jewish community, there are reasons for hope as the topic comes to the forefront in conferences, community forums and rabbinic training programs. As the Jewish community continues to tackle this complex issue, lives will be enhanced and hopefully even saved.
Among my Rosh Hashanah New Year’s resolutions are, not to judge so fast and be a bee not a fly.
Don’t Judge So Fast
A lovely little boy was holding two apples with both hands. His mother came in and softly asked her little boy with a smile, “My sweetie, could you give your mom one of your two apples?”
The boy looked up at his mom for some seconds, then he suddenly took a quick bite on one apple, and then quickly bit the other.
The mom tried hard not to reveal her disappointment.
Then the little boy handed one of his bitten apples to his mom and said, “Mommy, here you are. This is the sweeter one.”
No matter who you are, how experienced you are, and how knowledgeable you think you are, always delay judgment. Give others the privilege to explain themselves. What you see may not be the reality.
You Got to Be a Bee
Why, on Rosh Hashanah do we eat specifically an apple dipped honey to an omen for a sweet year, when there are many other options of sweetness like sugar or mangos?
One explanation is this.
What does a fly do when he flies into a beautiful garden of flowers? What does he look for? He seeks out dirt, anything disgusting and lowly because flies and mosquitoes thrive on dung. No matter how beautiful the garden is, the fly will seek out the feces.
Conversely, a bee will always seek out the flowers and the most colorful ones with the sweetest nectar. It will look for the best and the most beautiful to transform it into sweet delicious honey.
On Rosh Hashanah we are told, that wherever we travel in life, we can find the feces, or the flowers. Both exist in the gardens of life, and we got to choose where to hang out and spend our time and mental space. Sweetness exists where you look for it, where you choose to build it and nurture it.
One can recognize that some children are beautiful, delicious, and lovable. While other children’s challenges are obvious and more apparent. Our job as parents and educators is to be bees. To look for the beauty, for the soul of that child and every child, to embrace their soul, nurture it, build it, and develop it, until it produces honey.
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