Ahhh, the fortune cookie…Most of us don’t take them too seriously, but few of us leave a meal without reading them! I always wonder; “What makes the numbers that I have on my fortune luckier than those on my wife’s fortune?” I’m sure that Chinese mythology would be able to explain this seemingly random assignment of lucky numbers. But I digress. However, there is a funny thing that I just learned about fortune cookies— according to Wikipedia “Fortune cookies are often served as a dessert in Chinese restaurants in the United States and some other countries, but are absent in…China.” It seems that, even though most things in America are manufactured in China, ironically, fortune cookies were created in Japan but became a staple in Chinese restaurants due to marketing in the good ole U-S-of-A!
This week I went out with a couple of old friends for dinner, (yes, of course, both are alumni of NCSY, one a Rabbi Akiva Honor Society member and the other an NCSY’er of the Year.) We went out for my favorite, Chinese food! As we spent the night reminiscing and talking about various aspects of life, a young woman who just returned from studying at Michlelet Esther seminary in Israel approached our table. She knew that I was involved with NCSY and inquired about becoming an advisor. We exchanged contact information and each of us continued our meals. An hour later she stopped by our table again and said: “This is why I want to be an NCSY advisor” and proceeded to hand me this fortune:
At that point the maître de dimmed the lights and the happy birthday gong came out while the waiters started singing “Someday we will all be together” in Chinese!
Okay, it’s possible that I may be embellishing the restaurant bursting into song for this powerful fortune cookie message a tad, but this young inspired collegiate just expressed her desire to make a difference in the lives of teenage kids and to help them discover their full potential, and isn’t finding ones potential the real focus of this time of the year?
This past Wednesday night at the Republican National Convention, Paul Ryan made a statement that on the surface sounded like a typical campaign message. The statement was a characteristic “we’re great and we’ll save the country but our opponent lies and is incapable,” a classic political move. However, as a Jew in the month of Elul, I think there is a greater message in Ryan’s words – listen to this 12 second sound bite (Watch video). From Ryan’s words, I personally extracted two statements. The first one was his very clear sentiments about President Obama. The second point was a more personal message. During Elul we focus of making changes in our life, taking control of what and how wew lead our own personal relationships with one another and G-d. A leadership change in ones priorities is what each person needs to focus on, that is what I inferred from Ryan’s words. . That said, my vote, in that personal leadership election, has only vote; mine. I can inspired and strategize that needed change within myself. As we approach Rosh Hashana, this is the time for a personal leadership change in one’s approach to his or her life.
Proverbs (16:6) states “Through kindness and truth iniquity will be forgiven”. The Talmud explains “kindness” as referring to chessed (kindness between one another) and “truth” to mean the studying of Torah, which enables one to find the truth in life itself. This is the essence of this time of the year. We are resetting the proverbial “GPS” of life and gaining a new leadership over oneself, a leadership that we can’t wait even one more day to begin, let alone four more years. But how do we get there? Well I will let Mr. Miyagi, from the Karate Kid, tell you how to do it right this coming Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur: Watch video
LEARN CHINESE – Sweet New Year
Wishing you a happy and healthy new year,
Rabbi Yehoshua Marchuck