A study investigating the success rates of lifestyle changes when a spouse was involved in the same change found that if one partner is trying to lose weight, there is a greater chance of success if the spouse is also trying to lose weight. However, other changes are not affected as much by the spouse. Specifically, if one spouse wants to quit smoking or exercise regularly, their success rates are not necessarily dependent on whether the other spouse does the same.
The lead researcher doesn’t know why there is a distinction between weight loss and other activities — in her words “needs more investigation.” What we do know is that our rabbis assume that for spiritual matters, we do much better when we are partnered with others who are also on a path of growth. The verse describes some of the blessings received if we observe the Torah (Devarim 28:3):
ברוך אתה בעיר וברוך אתה בשדה.
Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field.
Why does the Torah single out the city? R. Chaim Sofer has two interesting suggestions. First, some people are comfortable performing mitzvot at home, but when they are out in public, in the presence of non-Jews, they want to conceal their Judaism. The Torah’s blessing is the opportunity for them to observe their Judaism openly. Additionally, it is a blessing that our observance of Torah and mitzvot is not limited to our own private lives but that it impacts those around us.
We may approach Rosh Hashanah with goals and values similar to our friends and family. However, we often don’t do enough to harness the power of working together to reach those goals. Much of the liturgy of the Yamim Noraim – High Holidays, is written in the plural. For example, we say every morning in Selichot: “חטאנו לפניך רחם עלינו” – “we have sinned before you, have mercy on us.” If we create platforms and opportunities to work together on those goals, we can be on the giving and receiving end of a program on a path toward blessings and success.
I want to take this opportunity to personally invite you to join us this year for spiritually uplifting and enriching Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services at Beth Hamidrash. We greatly look forward to inspiring services together in our traditional melodious Sephardic style Tefilot, with exciting children’s programming and delicious dinners.
Please RSVP HERE to book your seats or contact the office.
Shabbat Shalom & Ketiva V’Chatima Tova,
Rabbi Shlomo Gabay