Living with Intention in 5775: The Challenge | Week 1

Shalom! I am writing this post on the heels of Sukkot and Simchat Torah. I have to say this year has been the best out of the last four years for spiritual growth and development for me during the High Holy Days.

Baruch Hashem! With His help, I am making more connections in Scripture and finding more meaning and application for my life within the pages of the Bible. For the last three weeks, I feel like I have been on a spiritual high, but I know I cannot stay on the mountaintop forever; it’s time to descend and walk out what I believe Hashem has called me to do.

Today, during oneg at my congregation, I got chatting with a couple friends about “bringing up the level” in my home. What I mean by “bringing up the level” is raising up my physical life and connecting it with spiritual awareness in order to live in a more conscious and intentional way. So I would like to issue a challenge to you, my lovely readers. I would like to challenge you to join me and my friends in living with more intention this year. Every week, my friends and I will discuss what aspect of our everday lives we would like to focus on and then I will bring it to you. I would love it if you would join us!

You may be thinking, but won’t I be a hypocrite if I start acting in a way that seems fake and unnatural?

In answer to that question, I would like to share a story, as Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis relates it, called The Happy Hypocrite by Max Beerbohm:

[The story] is about a gentleman named Lord George Hell, whose name mirrored his personality. His bad temper was reflected in his eyes, his face, his very demeanor. One day Lord George fell madly in love with a sweet, gentle, lovely maiden but she was so repelled by his appearance that she let him know that she could never entertain the thought of becoming involved with a man whose face was so cruel and angry.

So Lord George came up with a brilliant idea. He would commission a master artist to create a mask for him that would reflect a kind, benevolent, gentle person. Thus disguised, he called on the damsel, who immediately fell in love with him. They were married and lived happily together, until one day an old enemy came to visit and said to the woman, “You think that you are married to a kind, gentle man – I’ll show you who your husband really is!”

And with that he ripped the mask off Lord George’s face. But lo and behold, the face beneath the mask was identical to the mask.

Throughout their marriage Lord George had pretended to be gentle and generous so that his conduct would not belie his mask. This left a deep mark on his character and transformed him into the person he had pretended to be.

**To read the rest of the article that this story comes from, visit: What Really Constitutes ‘Compassion’?

In other words, hypocrisy is permissible and welcome if the purpose of one’s hypocrisy is to break bad habits and develop good character.

Week 1

This week, we will be focusing on positive speech. Do your best to speak positively about and to others, and encourage others you are speaking with by tactfully changing the subject to a more positive subject.

**Side note: This is for your own personal growth, so I’d like to encourage you to take the challenge and wait to see if your new behaviour has an impact on others and whether they ask you about the changes you’ve made. I believe it will be more effective to practice these various exercises, rather than talking about doing them. Wait to share until someone asks.
Also, consider keeping a journal, so that you can right down your struggles as well as your small victories over this next year.

Okay, well, if you decide to join me and my friends, please let me know in the comments below. Also, if you have any ideas for this challenge, post them in the comments, too! They may just show up in the coming weeks or months!

Shalom and Blessings,
Sarah

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