Thursday, October 09, 2008

The 10 Days of Reflection: A Personal Checkup

It's Yom Kippur afternoon, and still another 4 hours or so remaining in the fast. As part of my afternoon break from Synagogue, I decided to come back to my apartment and do some personal reflection (as is the nature of the day).

For all my non-Jewish friends in the crowd, here's what I'm up to today. (Thanks, Wikipedia)
Yom Kippur, also known in English as the Day of Atonement, is the most solemn and important of the Jewish holidays. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.
As a break in the afternoon, it seemed a good idea to come home, and rather than distract myself with Facebooking and answering emails, I wanted to go through a list of 14 questions that I got last week at a SF State Hillel dinner I went to. It's a pretty thought-provoking list, and seemed a perfect activity for today.

The theme of self-renewal and contemplation is a common thread through Judaism, but today it's all the more important. I find that, personally, looking at myself through a critical point-of-view helps me figure out what I need to improve on, and keeps the goal of "being a better person" consistent, and at the forefront of my life. That's been my goal today (and in fact, quite often), and these questions from Hillel were an interesting mental exercise. I won't share my own answers as they are too personal - but I found this was an interesting set of ideas to think about privately. I find that doing this kind of stuff ensures that I am aware of myself, and of how I relate to my surroundings... and helps me understand and guide myself, and stay on the right track, keeping focused on my goals and how I think I ought to live my life.

The 10 Days of Reflection: A Personal Checkup
  1. When do I feel that my life is meaningful?
  2. How often do I express my feelings to those who mean the most to me?
  3. Are there any ideals I would be willing to die for?
  4. If I could live my life over, would I change anything?
  5. What would bring me more happiness than anything else in the world?
  6. What are the three biggest mistakes I've made since last Rosh Hashanah?
  7. What are the three most significant achievements since last Rosh Hashanah?
  8. If I knew I couldn't fail, what would I undertake to accomplish in life?
  9. If I could give my children only 3 pieces of advice, what would they be?
  10. What is the most important decision I need to make this coming year?
  11. What important decision did I avoid making last year?
  12. What did I do last year that gave me the strongest feeling of self-respect?
  13. When do I feel close to G-d?
  14. Do I have a vision of where I want to be in 1,3, or 5 years from now?
Best wishes to all.

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