It is hard to believe that Rosh Hashannah is over for this year and we have just finished Tzum Gedalia (the Fast of Gedalia) and are in the ten days leading up to Yom Kippur. It went too quickly by far and I am setting up lists of things to do for the week. The election result was pleasing – an understatement but to be expected. Some rather crass women in Sydney were very abusive to Tony Abbott. It only reflects on them and not on Tony Abbott or the Liberal party. They actually swore at him which shows how stupid and dumbed down under the ALP some of us have become.
Apart from writing, I have housework, washing, tidying up to do, gardening, animals to care for – our goats will need to be sold (the two boys) in the next month as I have a vet bill to pay and they will have to go. I was never going to keep them because to be honest, their dad was obviously a Boer cross of interesting parentage, but not a dairy billy goat and their mother is a dairy goat and she will be joined / mated with a suitable young buck that is at the Topaz Park stud. When you start to take goat breeding seriously, you spend a lot of time choosing suitable mates for your does. You don’t just say, Oh that’s a billy goat (a male) and that’s doe (female) and join them. A lot more thought goes into it. For Dairy goats at least and I am sure fibre goats (goats bred for hair and Boer goats (goats bred for meat) are similar if you are breeding good stock. For the dairy goats you look not only at conformation, but there is milk production, udder attachment, teat size and you try not to breed with goats that have undershot or overshot lips, wonky ears and cow hocks (hind legs turned inwards) and many other factors go into choosing the sire for a doe.
I do not know my doe Osnat’s parentage and so I have to breed up which means getting a good buck that has thrown (bred to other does) kids which are of good conformation, good milk production, healthy and with a nice solid udder attachment and it is desirable to have longer teats rather than smaller to facilitate easier milking. Ideally the teats should point slightly forward and that is often what is considered desirable in show stock but if you look at many does that are going to be in a commercial herd, the teats that point downward are easier to attach to the milking machines and therefore you have to decide what you want. If you are going to show, a lot of factors have to be considered and then there is temperament. You want nice quiet does and bucks. You want a temperament that is not too feisty or rough. It is no good having an excellent conformation and good milk production, if the doe is hard to handle or the buck is temperamental. You want him to go in and do what he is supposed to do and no dramatics and not have a problem with him because all this takes time and energy away from good management practice. Therefore you look for animals that do have personality but they are clever and personable. I was lucky in Osnat and will hopefully have a couple of does next year that I can breed up and produce a nice herd of animals that will produce good milk and in some quantity. Half of it is keeping your animals calm and happy as much as well fed. They also need supplement and block licks as well as their feet and general health being looked after.
How is this important to Rosh Hashannah and to the ten days? Well I was thinking along the lines of if we are so careful when breeding stud animals and looking at a whole range of attributes when choosing animals for their particular purpose, how much more so should we be careful when choosing the right behaviours and actions in ourselves to nurture and to develop our better qualities. We should also choose our associates with care and not be forced to follow the dictates of the crowd. We should be our own person in other words. We all follow our own truths to a certain extent and while we may be critical of the actions and behaviours of others, sometimes it is better to shut our mouths and not judge any person negatively unless we are 100 % sure that what they are doing is wrong. We should look into ourselves and search for our own faults and correct them before we start to judge others or be overly critical of other people. I have had occasion to hear very good people criticised for very little reason. Often it is jealousy that drives a person to attempt to pull another person down. ‘Oh’, the person may say in an inner dialogue, ‘that person is up themselves and they are not so good.’ The person they are critical of may just have self confidence and self esteem. The insecure person is somehow insulted and angry that the other person has a secure sense of self and it irks them. They are jealous and in an inner dialogue they will try to reassure them by belittling the other person or person who displays qualities that secretly they wish they had. They denigrate the people who display those qualities instead of saying, ‘Oh that person has something I am aspiring to and I wonder if I can learn something from them’; they put them down in an effort to put themselves on a higher level.
Personally, I have, over the years, learnt to appreciate the qualities in people that I associate with. I tend to be my own person. If I find some aspects or behaviours of a person objectionable, I just tend to avoid having a lot to do with that person if it is something that will may my every day association uncomfortable. For example, a person who smokes anything at all, I am uncomfortable with. I do not like cigarette smoke and passive smoking is a major cause of health problems. A person who tells lots of stories that deal with negative aspects of other people, I am also uncomfortable with and I don’t want to hear it. It is interesting to me that if you go to a doctor’s surgery or a dentist surgery you can pick up any one of these women’s magazines and they are full of stories that are about other people’s lives but there is so much about negative behaviour of these sporting stars, movie celebrities and public figures that is grist for the gossip mill. What is it that makes people want to try and focus on negativity and the angst of others? I will give you a few examples.
Take Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. They have adopted some children and given them a home and yes they do move a lot in the course of following their careers to provide for themselves and their families. But so do many other families. They probably have at least one or two fights a week. Most healthy relationships that develop over the course of the years do. However not every family gets headlines about impeding divorces or is criticised for their child rearing and parenting quite so publicly. Is it our business anyway? Are we such perfect parents or people? I find it fascinating that media and magazines focus on the negative and sensational, rather than the good that these two people do. Also these magazines are in the business of selling issues and often do not mind half truths to sell. In other words, they tell lies and embellish the truth.
Look at the media frenzy over details of Gina Rinehart’s court battles with her children. It is enough to make one feel quite ill and is it any of our business anyway? Yes, she has billions and there is obviously some tension there, but why is that so fascinating for others? She is not our mother and we are not her children or her lawyers and quite frankly it is boring. If she is doing something good with her excess millions, yes, that is interesting and I do not mind knowing about it. Oprah built a school for girls in South Africa. I enjoy stories like that because here is a person with money who wants to help the less fortunate of the world and give them a chance to climb out of the hole of poverty. That for me is real. Oil rich sheiks who build massive luxury hotels in Dubai with solid gold taps and diamond inlays on the edge of the Jacuzzi tub are just plain outlandish and into obscene luxury that offends me as a G-D fearing person and as someone who is trying to be a half way decent individual.
It is better to live well and simply. If we surround ourselves with the charming and the charismatic, if luxury items become every day necessities and our heads filled with stories that have no real purpose except entertainment – then, who are we and what have we become?
We need above all morality and a path to self improvement that is ongoing. The ten days between Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur allow us to reflect and to mediate on what our true purpose in this existence is really for. Whether we are a cleaner, a taxi driver, a CEO, a doctor, a teacher, a student, a tradesman, a housewife – it does not matter who we are – we can grasp the basic concept of teshuva and work on bettering ourselves. We can work on the inner self, rather than allow ourselves to be lost in reflection of the external self. The outer or external is what this world is about and while it is important to a certain extent, there are other qualities which we need to work on. If we work on the inner hidden self it will translate to the outer in a positive way.
Those who do not value themselves enough will be more critical of others, than they need to be. First you must love yourself and only through the development of self love and self appreciation, can you develop the qualities that allow you to see the truth hidden in that person you are critical of. I read somewhere once, that a person’s life can be written in their face but you have to study them for the fine details and watch them closely. It is true if you learn to read the faces of people and their body language, you can understand them better and see the messages given out by the way they act, I never used to believe it until I really started to study people again for characterisation and sometimes you turn away from a person because you do not want to invade their privacy by reading too much into their facial expressions, their body language and their behaviour. It is almost like mind reading and you have to close off and focus on the good in that person and remind yourself of their better qualities and put that in the forefront of your mind. You have to weigh them up favourably at all times.
Every person has a purpose and has their good points and their weaknesses. Often in families, there are people who allow us to develop our weaknesses into strengths and it is not an easy path or a painless one. We are all here to help each other be better and more competent and understanding people. Nothing is gained by the destruction of another human being. How much more admirable it is to bring them to life and allow them to realise their real potentials and to grow into better human beings, year by year.
The books are open and we are hoping for favourable judgements in all ways and hoping that the Abishter will allow us to continue our mission in this life with blessings rather than curses and give us the means to do so.
Gimar Hatima Tova and Tzum Kal