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Elul Reflection: 23 Elul 5778

3 September 2018
23 Elul 5778

How should we define success? It is an elusive term. Is it simply ticking off the boxes of a predetermined goal? Is there a difference in how success should be defined? As we approach another year, how should we measure this past one?

Money and fame, together with success, seems to define the ultimate absolute goals of a person. All these are relatively important, for sure, but they should not substitute the higher moral values. True happiness, for instance, is not obtained or achieved by accumulating more diplomas and certificates to prove that we are a successful person. My success is only real when it is perceived as a temporary, relative triumph; never as an end in and of itself. The reason for this way of thinking is that once I have accepted a successful endeavor and overcome a tough test in life, I might think that I have reached the top of the mountain, and there are no other mountains to climb. I would settle for the minimum, be satisfied with little gains and stifle my need to grow and challenge new goals.

All success therefore, should be partial, temporary and never final. We try to reach the stars but know that we will get only to the moon, and that is more than a success. There are always more heights to conquer than we can perceive. 

Nevertheless, to be grateful for the little steps forward, to learn to value the greatness of small things, to have helped a person just with a small smile, is a success in the heart of a person - knowing that tomorrow I can and should bring some happiness and love to another person. If I can inspire others, open someone’s mind, reach into my soul, connect with someone on a deep level, those are all successes that we lose focus on, because they are all the beginning of a process, not the end of a journey.

Success therefore in our lives is not necessarily about reaching the goal, but maybe setting the goal and taking steps to accomplish it, and measuring the quality of the journey. How will you reflect on your success this past year? How will you plan for success this coming year?

I wish you all a happy and healthy new year.

שנה טובה ומתוקה

--Rabbi Rafi Kaiserblueth

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