Welcome back! After a long holiday season, including a house full of kids and guests, serving dozens of meals, and just now finally getting a handle on all the laundry, I am so happy to be back to routine and to be writing a Shabbos message to you! I hope you all had inspirational High Holidays, with meaning and growth, and a joyous Sukkos celebration.
I would like to share a message with you today about priorities, specifically about how to choose what to focus on first. I believe that all of us are ridiculously busy. (Please tell me it’s not just me!) Really, I know how hard it is for everyone to catch a breather, and sometimes the only way to do so is to leave town and leave it all behind. (Which, by the way, is best done in Israel, and that’s why you all need to join us on our outstanding alumni trip this June. Apply at www.goinspire.com/jewish-women-journey) I know that simply scheduling a lunch date with a friend is sometimes akin to meeting with a celebrity – almost impossible to do. Our days and calendars are replete with stuff, and we are often faced with dilemmas of what to focus on first. As always, the Torah gives us the guidance that we need in this area too.
Noach, of Ark and Flood fame, is called a Tzaddik – a righteous man. Before any of the drama and destruction, he is considered a worked-on person of the highest caliber, earning him this title of distinction. But then the flood happens, and when it is finally over, Noach exits the ark and must begin life again for the world. At that point, he is described as “a man of the earth,” no longer with the title of Tzaddik. What happened? What changed?
When Noach left the ark he had a LOT of things to do. The world literally needed to be reborn. Every single aspect of human existence had been eradicated, and Noach had the job of rebuilding. The first thing he chose to do was plant a vineyard. Torah life uses wine as a consecration of many important things, and besides, after watching the world be destroyed, he certainly earned a stiff drink. Unfortunately though, choosing to plant a vineyard before anything else is what caused Noach to go from Tzaddik to simply a “man of the earth.” It was a big mistake.
When faced with a tremendous amount of responsibility and a gazillion tasks to tackle, the first priority for Noach should have been helping mankind with its basic needs. As important as wine is, Noach was placing his personal needs before the needs of the future world. Had he prioritized properly, the first thing he would have planted would have been wheat — not grapes at all. A Tzaddik would have recognized that basic sustenance is more important than the extras. A “man of the earth” cares about his own emotional wants above the greater good.
I believe this message applies to me in my life, and certainly to us all. When prioritizing, the greater good comes first. First choose the things on your list that help the most people, and then get to the personal things. To be clear, I want to emphasize that I am not saying not to focus on your own needs! G-d forbid — we must take care of ourselves all the time, or we would never have the capacity to take care of others. When faced with a dilemma of basic needs for more people, or extras for oneself, the Torah says do the basics for others first. (And this usually means that your personal basic needs are already taken care of before you get to others — learn more about this on Sunday, November 5, when we have our Reconnect event! See below for details.)
This idea can obviously play out in many ways. One example would be choosing to make dinner for your family before going to get your nails done. Or volunteering to help a community organization before going shopping for fun. The point is, that both are wonderful, but help others before you give yourself the extras. You can then look at your extra as a little reward for putting others first!
The other way to break away from all the stuff going on in our lives is Shabbos. Shabbos sets aside all the things that keep us running and lets us just BE. By bringing Shabbos into your life, you bring back your life. And that is the greatest priority of all.
Have a wonderful Shabbos,
PS Join us for the following events and classes! Be inspired and have fun!
Thursday, Oct 26 – Great Big Challah Bake! Join 1000s of women all over the world making challah at exactly the same time! 7 pm @ the J in Creve Coeur
Monday, Oct 30 – Salon Circle Tehillim class – 7 pm @ the home of Maxine Mirowitz
Tuesday, Oct 31 – Be the best YOU! Lunch and Learn 11:30 am @ Crown Cafe
Sunday, November 5 – RECONNECT – Self, Sisters, Soul! Take care of yourself by focusing on all aspects of a woman. Special breakout sessions on wellness, spirituality, relaxation, and knowing yourself. 2-5 pm @ TICK. Email me at email@example.com to register, or call Claire at 314-862-2474.
Alumni trip to Israel, is taking applications! Check out our website and amazing itinerary at www.goinspire.com/jwi. You owe it to yourself.