Every Today is Another Chance to Get Things Right

I saw this slogan on a bus while walking to work. Often, you don’t find interesting slogans like this on a bus. Where did the quote come from? You might be surprised if I tell you it’s from a TV show. The TV show is called ‘Daybreak’ and recently premiered on. The premise of the show is that the main character is framed for a murder and his family is in danger. Every morning he wakes up and has to repeat the same day and has to find out who framed him for the murder and he has to keep his family safe. Until he solves the mystery, the day will keep repeating itself.Upon further reflection, this quote is a great way to approach tefilla. After almost 5 years of taking classes at various Jewish outreach groups in the city, I made some breakthroughs this year and decided it was time to take some steps towards becoming more observant than in previous years when I had balked at such an idea (perhaps this will be the subject of a future post). One of the things I did was go to Israel for two weeks in July and learn at She’arim, one of the wonderful womens’ seminaries in Jerusalem. It was a transformative two weeks and the only regret I have was that I wished I had stayed a little longer. After coming back from Israel, I started davening twice a day. Before Israel (BI), I prayed for 15-20 minutes in the morning, semi-rushed because I slept in until 8:00, sometimes 8:15 and I needed to be at work at 9:00. After Israel (AI), I find myself getting up at 7:20-7:30, and davening for 30-40 minutes (my mornings are so much calmer now) and also davening Mincha.

There are times when I have many things on my mind when I daven, I’ll find myself thinking about mundane things like what I will have for dinner or bills I have to pay. When I initially started davening, it was easier to stay focused on the prayers because they were so new to me. After weeks and months of saying the prayers, davening started to become rote. It resembles starting an exercise program and after a few weeks you plateau and you need to shake things up, you need to be re-inspired. How do we get things right? I had the privilege recently of seeing Rabbi David Aaron of Isralight give a seminar on Tefila. The first part of the seminar focused on what tefilla really is, how we transform ourselves when we daven. Do the words that we say from the siddur really reflect what we want and need in our lives or are they just words that we mindlessly say? The second part of the seminar focused on the first blessing in the Amidah; we affirm that our relationship with Hashem dates back to Abraham, Issac, and Jacob and that Hashem cares about us and is involved in our lives. This blessing is the basis for the 18 blessings that come after it. In addition to this seminar, I bought “Praying with Fire” at a book fair and I find that the daily five minute lessons are a great way to start off the morning. I focus on a particular concept for that day and I keep that theme in my mind when I daven.

Every morning, we thank G-d for letting us wake up to see another day. We get another chance to fulfill our potential for the day, to use our time productively. We can find inspiration from the most unlikely place, even from a sign on a city bus.

7 comments on “Every Today is Another Chance to Get Things Right

  1. Regarding Reb Zusya of Anipoli (or Hanipoli) ZT”L:

    I have a small sefer “Imros Tzaddikim”, published in Israel in 5755, which is a collection of vignettes of famous tzaddikim taken from shiurim, etc., by the Klausenburger Rebbe ZT”L.

    On page 58, the well-known story has Reb Zusya of Anipoli naming his own brother Elimelech (of Lizhensk, the renowned Noam Elimelech ZT”L) as the person he wasn’t expected to be.

    I suspect that the accounts I’ve read that used other great tzaddikim as points of reference were embellished somewhere along the line.

    Anyway, this story, as Rabbi Simenowitz noted above, is based on an important idea: that a Jew can intuit what his or her particular self and role really are! Tapping into this intuition is not automatic; it requires real introspection and a real sensitivity to the messages that are sent into our world for our benefit.

  2. “We can find inspiration from the most unlikely place, even from a sign on a city bus.”

    We take life’s messages from whence they come. One of my favorites – I asked an investment advisor about setting up a small retirement fund – he said “The best time to have done that was 20 years ago – the next best time is now” – if that’s not a mantra for teshuva, I don’t know what is!
    I spoke at a Jewish Food conference 2 weeks ago (see JTA article!) I met a lovely professional chef (not frum). I asked him how it was for him to eat out and how he viewed others cooking (perhaps subconsciously preparing him – and me – for a shabbos meal invite:)) He told me he had 2 rules – 1) never criticize a free meal 2) judge each meal in its own context – I sat there stunned trying to digest the profundity and depth of his rules 1) never criticize a free meal – our very existence is a “free meal” courtesy of Hashem – do we exhibit the proper “hakoras hatov” (recognition of the favor bestowed upon us) or do we harp on the negative?
    2) This is essentially the famous story of Reb Zusya of Hanipoli who before he died cried hysterically – his students asked him what was the matter – he replied “When I get to shamayim, I’m not afraid that they’ll ask me why wasn’t I like Avrohom Avinu or Moshe Rabbenu – that I can deal with. But the one question I won’t have an answer for is when they ask me “Zusya – why weren’t you like Zusya? – that I have no answer for!”
    So bring it on! Bumper stickers, bus ads, noble women on horseback – if we turn our receivers to the right channel we can hear the messages!

  3. Jaded, Bob, I am reminded by your comments of this, from Rabbi Krohn’s The Maggid Speaks (p. 187):

    A prominent philanthropic woman known as Chavale was once given a blessing by the Sha’agas Aryeh (1695-1785) because she too the time every week to bring him two challos for Shabbos. He blessed her that someday she would attain wealth and merit the building of two synaogogues, one in Minsk, where she lived, and one in Eretz Yisrael.

    Time passed and the woman indeed became wealthy and she did indeed build a synagogue in Minsk, which came to be known as Chavale’s Shul. As she became older, she decided that it was time for her to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem so that she could fulfill the second part of the blessing and see a synagogue built there with her wealth.

    Before she left Europe, however, she decided to say good-bye to all the prominent rabbis she had become acquainted with over the years. When she came to R’ Chaim of Volozhin, he asked her where she was going. She explained that she had the assurance and the blessing of the Sha’agas Aryeh that she would like to see two synagogues built, one in Minsk and the other in Jerusalem, and now that she was getting on in years, she wanted to see the second part of the dream and the blessing fulfilled.

    R’ Chaim turned to her and said, “If you have the assurance of such a great tzaddik that you will live until it is built — the what is your rush?”

  4. I found this once posted inside someone’s cubicle. [A web page credits it to the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes; the hyphen is mine]

    “The way I see it , G-d put me on earth to achieve a certain number of things. By now I’m so far behind, I’ll never die.”

  5. “Always put off till tommorrow what you dont have to do today” – I think thats a way better bus slogan.
    So you think that every day, G-d in his acute kindness, gives us infinite opportunities to self inspire ourselves and do a way with the rusty undertones…. like sparkling/twinkling starts in an inky onyx sky.And show all those dark stretches of inkiness a thing or two about the power of twinkle and light.
    Well, some of us twinkle-less stars do look everywhere and the christmas lights for sparkle inspiration. And those of us in NYC this holiday season have plenty of opportunities for self inspirational activities.

    But alas, its really not all about self inspire and self rust.Its mostly about what energy’s been pre-programmed in those stars of days gone by (hovering/hanging around in the sky at birth). Its those stars that already decided which bus slogans will inspire/ which will self rust and which will help you understand why the subway system is way more emotionally cost effective.
    There is even some sage story about a Rabbi- Candle Maker/Grave Stone Seller…. he was predestined to be less than poor.His sound business ventures for self inspiration and livelihood earning were apparently not so sound.No one needed candles, it never got dark? And no one died either what a life.

  6. Maya,

    The bus sign just goes to show you that Hashem is everywhere..if you let Him into your life!


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