Resolutions can be Dangerous!

Resolutions can be dangerous. And New Year's resolutions are the most dangerous of all.

"But Rabbi", you think, "aren't you a proponent of making change? Don't you encourage people's reviewing and committing to things?"

I absolutely do but perhaps as part of a more deeply-rooted ongoing process, and not in that impulsive black-and-white-statement kind of way that says "Starting January 1st, I will... ".

We are all in a process of life and it's usually not the grand moments that precipitate change. Oh, those grand moments may bring on epiphanies and realizations, but they don't often translate into behavioral change or internal stance change. Those shifts are more incremental and more based on putting new habits into place.

One of the most misunderstood of the Ten Commandments may be the last, "Thou Shall Not Covet". Don't covet your neighbor, don't covet your friend. Don't covet - how is that to be made part of life?

A most innovative Rabbinic interpretation is to include the thought "Don't covet yourself".

We all have images of ourselves from our early young dreamer years; thoughts of who we thought we might become. Perhaps we romantically reminisce about a time in life we felt good about, or about a time we thought we were more grounded, or more creative, or kinder, or more attractive ..

Well, to stay in those thoughts is to .. . covet ourself!

To think back and wish we were our former self is to be absent from who we are now. It's a way of not being fully in our life. In fact, according to this interpretation, it may be breaking one of the Ten Commandments.

In this light, the Torah is encouraging our acceptance of who (and how) we are now, and perhaps encouraging us, to welcome gentle tweaking from our kinder inner self - or from a friend, or even from our rabbi - to move, with love, to a newer more desired state or direction.

I am grateful to be moving into the secular New Year with you all.


Rabbi Mark Biller