Rabbi Tarfon says: The day is short, the work is great, the workers are lazy, but the reward is great, and the master of the house is knocking [at your door]. He would [also] say, It is not upon you to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.
We are just over a week from Rosh Hashanah. Is it not the perfect time to take stock and make a small commitment towards improving yourself, your relationship with others and your relationship with God? If not now, when?
While the nature of the change is very individualistic, here’s a thought that might help guide the decision.
The Jerusalem Talmud (Shabbat 15b) states: Shabbat and Yom Tov were given solely to study Torah on them. Our sages tell us that we are to divide our time on Shabbat (and Yom Tov.) Half of it should be spent studying Torah and half should be spent enjoying Shabbat through food, drink, and sleep (Pesachim 68b.) While this is the general rule, Rabbi Moshe Isserles (Rema) cites an exception:
Working people who do not study Torah all week should study more Torah on Shabbat than scholars, who study Torah all week. Torah scholars should indulge themselves a bit with the pleasure of eating and drinking, since they take pleasure in their learning all week. (Orach Chaim 290:2).
I believe this halacha gives insight into how to attain balance with respect to self-improvement. We are called to focus on those areas which we tend to focus on less. Someone who might be devout in their prayers, might need to spend more time learning Torah. Someone who focuses most of their efforts in mitzvot between them and their fellow, might want to look at how they can improve their relationship with God (and vis-versa.)
May we all be blessed with a year of health, happiness and balance.
As additional suggestions to prepare for the High-Holiday, please consider these learning opportunities
Here are some suggestions for learning:
KOT Classes In Lieu of High Holiday Dvar Torahs via zoom
Thursday, September 10 at 7:30 pm (RH Day 1)- The Rupture of the Heart
Thursday, September 17 at 7:30 pm (RH Day 2)
Thursday, September 24 at 7:30 pm (Shabbat Shuva/YK)
OU’s Chag at Home online learning platform- Check out this rich site with many talks about the holidays
Learning Packet geared towards family learning- https://www.ou.org/chag/files/
Learning Packet geared towards people spending Yom Tov alone- https://www.ou.org/chag/files/