It's never too late to change
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During my term of office as a Rabbi, I have met many people who are dissatisfied with their lives. In times of crisis, these people declare that they wish to change and come to terms with life in a different way. The month of ELUL and the High Holidays, offer us a chance to examine deeply who we are and how we live. During the month of ELUL we receive guidance as to how to prepare ourselves for the Holy days; we read Psalm 27, we listen to the shofar, give charity and thus slowly soften our hearts towards the work of soul searching.

Rosh Hashanah elevates us to a high spiritual level and we continue to examine our lives in the framework of happiness. Two days of prayers, of listening to the shofar and meeting with the congregants (an inseparable part of soul searching, because if the other person did not exist, we would be unable to remember where we are), of family occasions and sharing our table with friends. All these allow us to better understand the year that has passed.
Then come the intermediate days where we can evaluate the experience we have had and thus we arrive at Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur instills a strong feeling of spiritualism and emotion. Now the atmosphere begins to change and from the restrained happiness of Rosh Hashanah we enter the situation where the inner feelings become the central feature, and from where the most difficult activity commences--- that of CHANGE. Change is no simple matter. When we talk about internal and deep changes, the work seems impossible. However if we take this process seriously, what seems impossible actually becomes possible.
I wish to share with you some texts from the Latin American poet, Pablo Neruda.

You are a result of yourself
 
Don't blame anyone else, don't complain about anything or anyone, because in principle you created your own life. Accept the responsibility in order to build yourself and the bravery to judge yourself, because of your failures it is worthwhile correcting your blindness and starting anew.
The triumph of the true person is built on the ashes of mistakes;
Don't complain about your environment or the people who surround you. There are those around you, who will know how to win. The good or the bad circumstances around you depend on the feelings in your heart. Learn to change every difficult situation into a tool for coping. Don't complain about your poverty, your loneliness or your luck; stand up to them with courage and accept the task, which to an extent, is a result of your deeds. You should come to terms with the challenge that comes with it.
Don't be embittered by your failures or faults and don't blame anyone else. Accept yourself as you are now or continue to justify yourself like a child.
Remember that every moment is an opportunity to start anew and that no period is so bad that you need to give in.
Stop deceiving yourself; you are the product of your deeds, your needs, your pain and your failures. If you were ignorant and lacked responsibility only you and no-one else can stand in your place. Don't forget that your present is a result of your past, in the same way as your future depends on your present.
Learn from the strong, the brave, copy the victors and those unwilling to accept the situation and those who succeeded despite everything.
Think less of the problems you have and more on the work, because without nourishment problems will disappear.
Learn to be born through pain; learn to be above it because pain is the largest barrier.
Look at yourself in the mirror. Begin to be with yourself and to identify the courage, willingness and ease within you in order to justify your deeds.
Remember that within, exists an unlimited strength. Once you have recognized the freedom and power, you can cease to be the victim of circumstances because your fate depends only on you and nobody else.
Stand up and look at the dawn and absorb its light. You are part of the force of life.
Now go forth and fight, decide and triumph in life. Don't ever think about luck, because luck is the excuse used by losers.
 
I am convinced that soul searching is the best way to build a healthy soul. We must always remember that "the meaning of existence as far as the essence is concerned, is to change. The meaning of change is to overcome. The meaning of to overcome is to add and create for yourself without end." Henry Bergson.
Change.....change.....so needed for individuals, yet so fearful to some.
Change is the way to connect with G-d. Change is the way to connect with others around me - and most important is - change for myself.
If you undertake seriously the task the High Holidays lays on our shoulders, you will be able to take upon yourself the process of "techuvah" which I translate as "change".
The meaning of "techuvah" is not only "to return" but also to "progress" in order to be the person I truly wish to be.

Friends! It still isn't too late to change. As in the story of the "chasid" where the Rabbi passed by the cobbler's house and saw him, late in the night, still repairing shoes, the Rabbi showed anger towards him and said "Why do you work till such a late hour?" The cobbler simply answered, "As long as the candle burns, there is time for correction"

The light (candle) is your life and the corrections are the changes you wish to make in your life. It still isn't too late; the light (candle) is still burning.

Happy Healthy and Prosperous new year to the House of Israel and the citizens of the world.
Rabbi Mauricio Balter
Executive Director, Masorti Olami & MERCAZ Olami

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