We now find ourselves in the last week of the Jewish Year. We will shortly have an unparalleled opportunity to start afresh, and do things better in 5768 than we did in 5767. I know I’ve already planned some positive changes and found them difficult to implement in practice — Reb Yisroel Salanter said that it is more difficult to change a “middah,” an attribute of one’s character, than it is to learn the entire Talmud. But we lose nothing — and gain everything — in trying.
Inertia drags us down. The world blinds us to that which is truly important. One must attempt to go up merely to stay in place. So although you may look back and wonder, given past history, whether “New Year’s Resolutions” are worthwhile, you must consider what might have been if you hadn’t made the attempt to do such-and-so, even though you met with limited success. And then, of course, you will realize that there were outright improvements as well.
So, do not hesitate. Pledge to improve, and then do your best. If you succeed in full, then you have performed a task greater than learning the entire Talmud. But every improvement, no matter how modest, is more than worth the effort!
Good Shabbos, and wishing you and yours that you be written and sealed for a year of blessings and happiness,
Rabbi Yaakov Menken
Director, Project Genesis / Torah.org