A Higher Call - Yizkor - Yom Kippur 5774

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With anecdotes and jokes-such as, the poignant tale of the blindfolded chess player; the doctor who defied the Nazis and who would later change the world’s perception of the disabled; the telling comment of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein; the tale of the masons; the one thing both sides of the mechitzah will agree upon, and other vignettes-we address the spiritual hunger that plagues our generation.

“Man does not live by bread alone.” All of us have a desire, a hunger, to be greater than we are. But we don’t know how to do it. So we get better gadgets, and a new car, and we strive for a bigger home, but these possessions don’t enlarge our lives. There is only one thing that will truly make you bigger, and that is answering the call of a cause greater than yourself.

Just as a person who suffers from an iron deficiency will not improve with all the vitamins in the world unless iron is prescribed, so too a person who suffers from a spiritual deficiency will not be content even if they have all the glittering possessions in the world. Rather, they must provide their soul with the nutrients that it requires.

We must nurture our soul’s hunger to go beyond itself; it yearns for spirituality, for holiness, for Torah. The soul is not content waterskiing on the surface of Judaism. It wants to dive deep into the sea of our tradition, into the revitalizing waters of Torah.

This is the great paradox at the heart of emotional life: when we worry only about ourselves, when we relentlessly consult “how-to” books on how to make ourselves happier, we guarantee that our deepest needs will remain unmet.

However, when we learn to give the people around us love and affirmation, we discover that we cure our own sadness in the very act of reaching out to them.

And if we do this, we will find a deep sense of fulfillment and happiness while being lifted to a greatness we never knew we could achieve. In the coming year, let us all answer The Higher Call, and set out on the Journey Beyond Self!

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