Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Spring is here. Flowers are in bloom. 

I am struggling to re-adjust my body, my mind and my soul back to the Western ways after spending Pesach in Israel. 

I sit on my patio feeling the breeze, enjoying the fresh air and admiring the tropical green trees. The beauty of nature permeates my soul.  A joyful calm is within me, grateful that my April allergies have not kicked in yet. 

Suddenly a grinding sound from a motor appears. I can hear the blades spinning. I look up to see the workmen climbing high on their ladders holding the chainsaw.  As the loud buzzing sound continues, my serenity is disturbed. 

My first reaction is annoyance. Really, do they have to do this now? Don't they know they are messing with my serenity?

I was finally getting content, feeling settled in my peaceful place. Can't they do this on another day? Why don't they come back when I'm inside, not on a magnificent day like today? My anger mounts. I notice the change in my body. A squirming discomfort replaces the peacefulness. 

Then suddenly I realize, I am the one disturbing my own tranquility. 

I struggle to make peace with the noise.  My beautiful, bountiful yard is being slaughtered. The lush green paradise is slowly coming down. The sounds from the heavy palm fronds falling to the ground can be heard. My serenity is being shredded, branch by branch.  A quiet sadness comes over me as I watch the lustrous branches tumble from the treetops. It will be bare for months until the beauty returns to my peaceful place. AlI I will see is raw sliced-open branches of the trees, dry and colorless.

Impulsively, I call my husband asking him "What are they doing to our yard? Why does this landscaper cut so much off, can't they take less each time and come more often?" "Don't worry it will grow back soon," he reassured me," we have to do this. It's the only way the trees can grow new leaves." 

And then, it hit me... I need to do the same for myself.  I need to make a fresh start so that I can grow again. 

Spring is the time to get rid of the old and bring in the new.  

We clean our houses, empty garages, and cut back our yards. It's also time to cleanse our souls. 

Our old behaviors, negative character traits, and harmful words need to be shredded and thrown away so that we can make room for the new. As long as the "old" remains, the "new" cannot grow. 

Each night we count the omer. We recite the blessing asking Hashem to purify us from our evil and uncleanliness.  

For seven full weeks we count each night so that the souls of Klal Yisrael may be cleansed from their defilement, so that the blemishes that we have caused can be rectified. 
May we be purified and sanctified with supernal holiness.
May abundant bounty be bestowed. 
May it rectify our nefesh, ruach and neshama from every defect. 
May it rectify and purify us with Your supernal holiness.  

The omer is our spiritual landscaper. 

It's time to say good-bye to the blemishes, defects and negative traits. It's time for rectification and purification. It's time to cut back the old branches and grow new ones that will be more beautiful than the ones before. It's time to refresh, renew and readjust. 

Since it's not so simple to stop the "old" harmful ways, a guide is necessary to take you through the process. Mussar learning is the guidebook. A teacher is required to lead you through the cleansing process and offer a new path to grow on. It's too hard to go it alone. 

                                         4 Mussar Lessons for a Fresh Start

1.  Make a serious committment every day to say, "From this moment forward, I am different."
Every moment is an opportunity for a new beginning. 
What are you waiting for?

2. Start small. Tackle one thing you'd like to change. Each day take a baby step to make it happen. 
                 Small starts cause big finishes. Little things can make a big difference.

3. Believe that change is possible. Nothing stays the same. Become an initiator of change.

4. Look for the good in everything. Even though there are tough times when things don't look so good, search hard to find something of value, no matter how small it may be.

Spring is here. It's time to get rid of the old; refresh, renovate and discover a new you.

Chag Aviv Sameach! 

May Hashem bless you with bountiful blossoms as you become anew.

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