Weighing Our Deeds
Closing ThoughtsOpinion

Weighing Our Deeds

Dr. Terry Segal says that with the coming of the new year is also an opportunity to "balance the scales of light and darkness within us."

Rosh Chodesh Tishrei begins at sundown Sept. 29 on erev Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Chodesh Tishrei always begins on Rosh Hashanah. There’s no Rosh Chodesh blessing because Hashem blesses it on the last Shabbat of Elul. Tishrei heralds the new year and the stream of holidays, including the Ten Days of Repentance, Shabbat Shuvah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah, and Shabbat Bereshit.

One of our many tasks this month is to balance the scales of light and darkness within us. For most, it’s not a question of good and evil, but more of the good lying dormant and the negative expressed. What if we work toward tipping the scales of goodness as we return to the purity of our souls, while we turn away from our inclinations to negative energy that serves no one?

Imagine the scales of justice and two piles of smooth stones. Some are light and some dark. The lighter ones represent thoughts and actions that elevate your vibration, expand your heart and spirit, and brighten the world. The darker ones represent energy that lowers your vibration, is only self-serving, and fosters isolation and separation. In an honest accounting of your soul over this past year, if you filled the scale with stones representing your thoughts and deeds, would you have more on the lighter or darker side?

Now envision clearing the scales, taking all the stones off again. Sort through the darker ones, naming each of them with ways in which you missed the mark. You might need to add more dark stones than you had previously realized. Do the same for the lighter stones, with those representing G-d’s attributes.

We’re performing a Divine task when we hold ourselves accountable. You might try this with actual stones for a more tactile experience, but you can make stones cut from light and dark paper. After you’ve labeled and sorted them, choose three dark stones that stand for your most difficult expression of negativity to transform, your least difficult, and one in the middle.

For example, lashon hara, “bad talk,” or gossip, may be a tough one for you. As you delve into this, you’ll find that we’re forbidden to speak negatively about someone, even if it’s true. In fact, we’re supposed to chastise someone else who speaks negatively of another in our presence or, at least, remove ourselves from hearing it. If we do hear it, we’re forbidden to believe it. We’re supposed to view that person favorably in some way as not to be judgmental. If there might be truth to it that could harm us we’re allowed to protect ourselves, however, we are forbidden to tell the story, even if omitting the name, if the listeners might be able to guess who it is. If this were the only stone to work on, it would present a formidable challenge. I randomly chose three things to turn from, but one might be plenty.

By contrast, choose three positive light stones that represent middot, attributes of G-d, to embody. Again, one that is challenging, one that might come more easily, and one in the middle. Keep them all in your awareness. Work to eliminate the negative and augment the positive.

We can explore new ways to tackle Tishrei’s challenges through the Kabbalist lens of understanding the zodiac sign of Libra, those who are practical, level-headed, diplomatic and logical in their balanced state. The Hebrew letter lamed rises up above the others. The tribe Ephraim means “procreation,” which aids in renewal and rebirthing ourselves. The sense, touch, invites us to reach out for connection. The controlling organ, gallbladder, helps us to expel poison and cleanse our toxicity.

Each year at this time we are given the opportunity to clear our souls and reinvent ourselves anew.

Meditation focus: Quiet yourself and ponder the above exercise. Select a negative pattern you’d like to change, along with a positive one you’d like to integrate. Consider the impact of those changes in your world. Write them down and place your list somewhere you’ll see it and be mindful of it daily.

May it be a sweet and meaningful year for you and yours.

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