Friday, June 10, 2022

My commencement address to Graduates

It is an exciting time of year as the Class of 2022 dons their caps and gowns, graduates from this stage in life, and prepares for the next stage. Students who worked hard and invested so much into reaching this stage have much to be proud of all their efforts. Let's not forget the parents who invested much of their blood, sweat, and tuition dollars so that their children can reach this milestone. It has become a tradition for a notable figure to deliver the commencement as politicians, athletes, and celebrities flock to universities to dispense some with some of their wisdom. I have mused to myself if I had been invited to deliver a commencement address, would I have anything meaningful to share with a group of students ready to transition to the next step in their journey? Here are some of my thoughts: Life of Gratitude: This approach to life cannot be overstated, especially in the post-Covid era. Our society is wholly enmeshed in the throes of entitlement, and unfortunately, Observant Jews are not immune from this malady. From a young age, we are fed a concoction of rights that feed this perception among ourselves that we are entitled to whatever, however, whenever we desire something. If this outcome is not met to its specification, one is usually disappointed and sad. The opposite approach is to live a life of appreciation and gratitude. The latter individual expects nothing and appreciates everything. Judaism teaches us that the first prayer to recite daily is the Modeh Ani. This is a declaration of gratitude that we have been afforded another day in this world to make a difference in the world. The more we express our gratitude to G-d and others, the more we appreciate every day for what it offers, no matter the challenges it brings. Live with Holiness: As one advances with a career, life can quickly turn meaningless by one jumping from earning a paycheck to paying the bills to work to make a paycheck to earn, etc. The weeks at work turn into months, then years, and then one wonders where all the time went. Therefore, making every day count is important by infusing some G-dliness in the day. For example, one can study Torah for a few minutes, pray fervently or commit to engaging in chesed. All these have the marking of inculcating holiness into your day. So my dear graduates, as the saying goes, you only live once! So make the most of each day, and the entire world will benefit from that single choice. Have a Peaceful Shabbos, Rabbi Yaakov Fisch

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