August 28, 2015
Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon, Temple Emanu-El ,Tucson, Arizona
We are nearly halfway through the final month on the Jewish calendar, Elul, which means Rosh HaShanah is just two weeks from Sunday night. This is the time of year when we examine our lives in the past year, think about how we have lived, and decide how we can improve and change in the coming 5776 year.
Around a synagogue like Temple Emanu-El, Elul is always an interesting time—that is a Chinese curse, by the way, may you live in interesting times—a period of accelerating preparations and steadily increasing stress leading up to the great pressure-cooker of the wonderful, awesome, overwhelming High Holy Day season. In this swirling maelstrom of activity we need to find the time and energy to figure out how we need to change in the coming year.
My favorite joke about change is the one about the Zen Buddhist hot dog vendor. A man walks up to the Zen Buddhist hot dog vendor and says, “How much is a hot dog?” And vendor says, “$4.” So the guy says, “OK, I’ll take one with everything” and hands him a $20 bill. The Zen Buddhist hot dog vendor hands him the hot dog, takes the $20, puts it into his cash drawer and closes it. The guy says, “Hey, where’s my change?!” And the Zen Buddhist vendor says, “Change must come from within.”