We all know the most difficult part of change is sticking to it. Everyone has had the experience of deciding to make a change in life during a moment of resolve only to see that determination trickle away in the days and weeks that follow. After a while, we end up feeling both disappointed with the lack of change and with ourselves for the weakness of our resolve.
The question we tend to ask ourselves is: How can I hold onto my resolve for the long haul?
Moses said to them:
Be silent and listen, Israel, this day you have become the people of Adonai your God. Listen to the voice of Adonai your God and do God’s mitzvot and laws, which I enjoin upon you today. (Deuteronomy 27:9-10)
Rashi reads this verse and asks, Why does Moses say "this day"? The Israelites had been called God's people since they were slaves in Egypt. Why should Moses claim that "this day" is the day they became "the people of Adonai your God"? In answer, Rashi says, "You should regard every day as if it were the day you entered the covenant."
That is the secret of maintaining resolve. We should not think of our commitment to change as something that we do only once with the expectation that it will last. Each day needs to be the first day. Discipline requires that there be a moment in each day in which we clarify our intention to ourselves. Each day requires an intentional choice to choose the life we want.
That may be what prayer is really all about. We don't pray to God because God needs to hear our words. We don't even have to assume that God is listening to us when we pray. We pray so that we will hear our own words of commitment and determination about the kind of life we want to live.
Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev, the author of Kedushat Levi, went even further. He said in a comment on this week's Torah portion (Ki Tavo) that we should believe that "each and every breath we take carries with it the breath of God that keeps us alive." Every breath we take, he said, is a new moment of creation in which we are like Adam, a freshly created being filled with intimate awareness of God's presence.
As we prepare for the coming of Rosh Hashanah, the birthday of the world, we can take a moment each day to meditate on our own rebirth. We can renew our resolve to make the changes we need with every breath. Let every breath be a discreet moment, a new chance to renew commitment and covenant. With each breath, we can see ourselves as a new creation.
Other Posts on This Topic:
Counting from Freedom to Covenant: Discipline