Mark Zuckerberg sent out an inspiring message right before Rosh Hashanah, which is the start of the Jewish New Year. “The prayer, ‘Mi Shebeirach’…has a line that has always touched me and that I reflect on when I face challenges: ‘Help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing.’”
Zuckerberg added, “I hope you all have a wonderful year ahead and that you find the courage to make a positive and meaningful change in the world this year.”
Sometimes a positive and meaningful change might just occur inside us. I’m thinking now of my friend, Lily, who was complaining to her sister about the way another friend, Nicole, treated her during a visit.
“Well, maybe Nicole was concerned about her health,” Lily’s sister, Julia, said. “Maybe she was thinking about other things.”
“Yeah, right,” Lily grumbled. She confided to me that she had dismissed Julia’s generous judgement up until this Rosh Hashanah. From now until Yom Kippur, which begins on Tuesday, September 22, the gates of heaven are open. God is judging us and our actions. And I read somewhere that God acts as our mirror. If we are harsh with others, then God is harsh with us. If we are kind to others, God is kind to us.
The idea of being generous in our judgement is my mandate for the coming year. I thought about it again because I just had a conversation with a guy whom I’d met back in 2013. I didn’t really like him then—he seemed sullen, withdrawn, and unfriendly. But the other night, he told me, “The year 2013 was the worst year for me. My wife and I had two car accidents. Our baby was born with health issues. And then my father died in November 2013.”
I met the guy in December of that year—just after his father had died! I didn’t know about his father’s death, but if I had, I would have been able to be generous in my judgments. I’m sorry that I was so quick to reach a negative conclusion when I could have given him the benefit of the doubt. What a powerful lesson for me.
We can make this day part of our best chapter by adding generosity to our judgments of others. What better way to pass on a remarkable kindness? We can do our share to make our lives more meaningful just by changing our thoughts. And that’s the start for changing the world. Our world. Our lives. One moment at a time.