Monday, August 30, 2021

Assembling Our School Supply List in Time for Rosh HaShana

It was so interesting watching as the kids started assembling their books and supplies for school this past week. There was a lot of time spent matching their supplies with the official list sent out by the school. What's kind of funny is how detailed the lists really are, everything from the length of the ruler to the color of the folders, and if the folders need pockets, brand of pencil, how many pencils, brand and number of erasers, how many binders, what colors the binders need to be, and of course don't forget the markers, colored pencils (and brand) and clear tape. The lists go on and on. It's quite a project.

Why do the kids need such specific details regarding school supplies? Isn't any colored pencil "good enough"? Or does it matter if a child has a blue folder with pockets or a pink folder without pockets? Truth is that it actually does matter.

The school supplies are the children's tools to be successful in school. Each of these supplies is a 'tool' for a certain task at school. When the teacher assigns the blue folder with the pockets to be the folder for social studies and starts handing out photocopies of the material to be kept in that specific folder - the child had better have a blue folder with pockets... the pink one without pockets won't cut it. 

What's fascinating though is applying it to the mitzvot, the Commandments that G-d gave to the Jewish People. There's certainly a feeling sometimes that the mitzvot are too detailed, too involved and why can't I make due with "good enough".  And the answer is no - it's not "good enough".

The mitzvot are our tools to be successful in our relationship with G-d/HaShem. Just as each school supply has it's task to fulfill, each mitzvah we tackle brings us closer to being successful in creating a world that HaShem wants to dwell in. We are partners with G-d in making a better world. Sometimes it's obvious what needs to be done to make things better - and sometimes it's not so clear. Rather than assume that "any" colored pencil will do the job, perhaps an understanding of why the brand chosen is important. For example, I just found out this summer that some colored pencils sharpen better than others - it's important to know this because when you sharpen this particular brand, it continually breaks and it's quite frustrating.

While sometimes we think we know what has to be done to make this world a G-dly one, it is a good idea to check the "official school list" i.e. The Torah and find out what G-d actually thinks are things we should do and not only rely on our own "good enough" list. Even when we don't understand why one brand is chosen over another, we trust that the teacher knows why we are required to buy that brand. In the same vein, we need to trust that HaShem knows why these mitzvot are detailed and need to be done in a certain way to be successful.

Rosh HaShana gives us an opportunity to get our own supplies in order. We need to take the time to "match up" where we are at with the "official" list. What are our strengths and weaknesses? What small steps can we take to improve our relationships with our family and friends? What small mitzvah can we take on to improve ourselves and create a G-dly world?

Like assembling our school lists, we will always be missing something on the list. We are human beings, susceptible to failure, but also capable of amazing things. 

It's time to get excited. The first day of the New Year is coming. G-d willing, it'll be a great year.

I want to wish everyone a Happy, Healthy and Successful year ahead, full of clarity and blessing.

Shana Tova.


Unknown said...

Very much like the analogy. Thanks

Shira said...

Glad you liked it, thank you for your feedback.