daily contemplation: Seeking the Good


March 24, 5780

“Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live; and so the L-RD, the G-d of hosts, will be with you, as ye say.”

– Amos 5:14, JPS 1917 Tanach

If we put our thoughts on hold for a moment, in order to reflect on this verse, what realizations will become apparent to us? I would contend that one way to approach the inherent meaning of this verse, is to acknowledge that most people, including myself, whether or not we would at least acknowledge this for ourselves, are ready, willing, and able to seek good for ourselves. However, is this the type of “good,” that is implied here? What constitutes the good that we are called upon to seek? For surely, the objectives of selfishness are not being spoken about in this verse.

Within context, the previous verses speak of various transgressions committed during the life of Amos. He is calling the people towards righteousness. Most of the sins that he addresses, have to do with selfishness, greed, and lack of consideration for others. Selflessness promotes doing good for others, whereas selfishness causes a distortion in our thinking, wherein we may think that what is individually good for ourselves is the good that G-d condones. If that is the case, then we are only creating Him in our image. As is written, elsewhere, our ways are not His ways.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the L-RD” (Isaiah 55:8). Therefore, we should focus on G-d’s definition of good, while reevaluating our own definition. With the dark storm clouds of the Corona virus, hovering over the globe, we may be called upon to further scrutinize our thoughts, speech and behaviors even more so than we have done in the past. For myself, the gravity of this global plague compels me to think more seriously about life. More than a wake up call, I think that H’Shem is calling for an upgrade in our walk with Him. Our response is required, so that in doing good, especially in these challenging times, He will be with us in the midst of our nisyanos (struggles).

daily contemplation: Searching

B”H February 26,2020 “Seek ye the L-RD while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near.” – Isaiah 55:6, JPS 1917 Tanach In my life, sometimes there is a lull of excitement – six days each week, excluding the Sabbath. Perhaps, excitement is not the correct word. There is actually nothing […]

daily contemplation: Searching — Etz Chayim

Remedy for Ennui


I believe, like many others, that only G-d can fill the void within man; so, it would follow that any dissatisfaction with what the world has to offer should successfully lead to a search that transcends this world. Otherwise, the angst, frustration, and general anxiety that some experience in their lives could lead to ennui.

Instead of ennui ultimately leading to a rejection of this world as meaningless, as contended by some strands of philosophy, we should feel compelled to cast our eyes Above.

Ennui must be transcended by finding lasting value in an Absolute Good. I believe that Constant may only be found within the depths of my belief in G-d. “He was, He is, and He always will be.” Moreover, He is not only transcendent (above the world), He is immanent (within the world).

H’Shem may be sought out, and in return for our efforts, He will provide comfort in a spiritual sense, even though He is in Shomayim (Heaven). His presence may also be found amidst our daily lives on earth, when we are able to foster enough awareness to find Him.

soul connection


erev 16 Elul 5779

the Path of Life

by Tzvi Schnee

In Judaism, within the realm of orthodoxy, in particular, can be found the phrase, “off the derech,” meaning one who has strayed from the path. Yet, all may learn from the intent of the phrase, as pertaining to our own individual guidance under H’Shem’s care. Regardless of our level of religious connection to G-d, our own conscience should help to guide us on the path; in fact, in consideration of Victor Frankl’s tenet that mankind’s conscience is always connected to a Higher Source, we may acknowledge in deference to this perspective, our soul’s connection to G-d.

During the month of Elul, on the Hebrew calendar, the King is in the field. Ordinarily a king would be inaccessible to the common person, because he would be confined to his palace; when he enters the field, he is more readily able to be approached. The King in this mashal (parable) is H’Shem (G-d); our opportunity to connect with Him through teshuvah (repentance) is greater during the month of Elul.

In preparation for Rosh HaShannah, we are called upon to examine our conscience, by way of heshbon hanefesh – making an account of our soul. By judging ourselves through a thorough reflection upon our character, we may ask G-d to help us change for the better; this is most certainly efficacious to enact before Rosh HaShannah, also known as Yom HaDin (the Day of Judgment). May we all look forward to bettering our lives by rooting out our aveiros (sins), so that we may be judged favorably for the New Year. Additionally, may we commit to serving G-d anew in our lives, with enthusaism and sincerity in meaningful ways. May we all be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life.