Surely, this Instruction which I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, “Who among us can go up to the heavens and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?” Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who among us can cross to the other side of the sea and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?” No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it (Deuteronomy 30:11-14).

At this season, I pick up Rabbi Alan Lew’s book, This is Real and You are Completely Unprepared. This book bears the subtitle, “The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation.” Rabbi Lew writes, “Look. Pay attention to your life… Everything depends on our seeing our lives with clear eyes, seeing the potential blessing in each moment as well as the potential curse, choosing the former, forswearing the latter” (p 67).

Rabbi Lew explains, “According to the Iturey Torah, there are seven gates—seven windows—to the soul: the two eyes, the two ears, the two nostrils, and the mouth. Everything that passes into our consciousness must enter through one of these gates. So at the deepest level, the passage … deals rather with being mindful of the process of consciousness itself” (p 77). We are capable of significant growth only if we are paying close attention.