Rosh Hashanah 5780
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Rosh Hashanah 5780

Rabbi Mark Hillel Kunis is the spiritual leader of Congregation Shaarei Shamayim in Toco Hills.

Rabbi Mark Hillel Kunis is the spiritual leader of Congregation Shaarei Shamayim in Toco Hills.

There’s just too much negativity in our world today. Political compromise is a thing of the past. People are angry. The vitriol in the media—especially social media—is beyond the pale. Even in our families too many us don’t talk to each other. When did we lose sight of the fact that it’s possible to disagree without being disagreeable?

I think this negativity begins with our selves. When I ask someone, “How are you?” the response I hear most frequently is: “Hanging in!” Do people understand what images the words “hanging in,” evoke? Is this the best we can do, describing ourselves as having a noose around our neck, or being a piece of meat hanging on a hook in the market?

My friends, be positive about yourself. Respond, Baruch Hashem—thank G-d. That says it all! It’ll make you feel better and will certainly help make the person who asked feel better.

Sarah was originally called Sarai. G-d promised her she would have a baby. But Sarai was 90 years old—way past her childbearing years. Sarai felt as though she had let her husband Abraham down. Her self-esteem was so low. G-d knew that it would never come to pass unless He could change her mindset. And so G-d changed her name from Sarai to Sarah, which means “princess.” Now every time someone said, “Good morning, Sarah,” they were saying, “Good morning, Princess.” “How are you, Sarah?” “How are you, Princess?” “Would you pass me the ketchup, Princess?”

She went from “I am a failure,” to “I am a princess.” From “I am unattractive” to “I am beautiful.” From “I’m inferior” to “I am amazing and wonderful; I am G-d’s masterpiece!”

My friends, each of us have had to face bad breaks and disappointments. Perhaps others have made you feel that you’re not good enough or attractive enough. But G-d is saying to you what He said to Sarai, “I want you to change your name to Princess”—not literally, but in your attitude. You have to shake off the negative things people have said about you. Shake off the low self-esteem. With her newfound attitude, Sarah, at 90 years old—against all odds—gave birth to Isaac. With a positive approach, who knows what we might accomplish?

What about all the negativity in our world today? Americans are worried. Americans are anxious. We have switched from Prozac for depression to Xanax for anxiety. Half of America was so anxious about the state of our country that they went and elected this President. And half of America became so anxious because the other half went and elected him President! Is our world really coming to an end?

I read the following story recently in an article (First Things) called, “Death of Despair”: A man in his thirties took his own life by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. After his death, his psychiatrist went with the medical examiner to the man’s apartment, where they found his diary. The last entry, written just hours before he died, said, “I’m going to walk to the bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way, I will not jump.”

Yes, one simple smile, one kind, positive word, can make all the difference in the world; can make life worth living … can make your home one filled with love!

Think positive! Make love, not war. Be nice! And don’t forget: the next time someone asks you, “How are you?” don’t say, “Hanging in.” Say, “Baruch Hashem, Thank G-d … Sh’hechyanu v’kimanu v’higiyanu lazman hazeh, “for giving us life, for sustaining us, and for enabling us to reach another year in our lives.” Amen!

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