"What did you do today?"
It seems like an innocent-enough question. We ask it of our spouses at the end of the workday, or of our children at the conclusion of their school day. Maybe we're really interested in the answer; oftentimes we're just making small talk, the cursory check-in becoming the verbal equivalent of the quick peck on the cheek. It says, "I care about you; I'm curious about how you spent the hours when we were away from one another."
Sometimes, there are exciting things to report. "I lost a tooth!" "I got a promotion!" "I met the CEO of the company!" But such moments tend to be few and far-between, punctuated by more mundane occurrences. "I filed those TPS reports." "I had a math test." And these run-of-the-mill experiences hardly seem worthy of sharing, particularly when we take note of the larger issues impacting our world. In the last few weeks we've seen the impact of racism and police brutality; watched conflicts escalate throughout the Middle East; been awakened to the toll that depression can take even on those who seem happy and carefree; witnessed a rise in anti-Semitic rhetoric and action.
In the face of such upsetting happenings unfolding on the world stage, we may feel powerless. When we are asked, "What did you do today?" our first inclination may be to hang our heads and admit, "Not enough."
But Elul reminds us of possibility and potential. We don't rush into the act of teshuvah all at once. We ease into making the change that we feel is necessary so that we may be ready for the coming year.
In a similar vein, God does not expect any one of us to single-handedly change the world. Rather, each of us is called to act in our own way to make a small (but still meaningful) impact for the betterment of society. We don't have to do it all. We just have to do our best.
This post is written as part of #BlogElul.