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Being blessed to have my mother still dispensing advice to me makes the whole Florida / Irma situation that much scarier.

Florida is full of seniors, aka snowbirds. Many of their families live on the eastern seaboard of both Canada and the United States. Did they have the wherewithal to leave? Were they able to evacuate? To get my own mother out of her apartment to a strange place would be very difficult and stressful. Imagine being alone there and having to do this on your own? Nothing much to say except we pray that families took care of their parents and grandparents.

With this hurricane hovering over the heads of so many millions, it behooves us to stop for a moment to be grateful for what we have.

The big things, of course: a roof over our head, food on the table, clothing and friends and loved ones who care about us.

And the little things, the small details in life. That phone call to see if everything is ok because someone remembered you had a doctor’s appointment. Giving tzedakah to the guy standing outside the bakery and watching his smile in appreciation. I could go on and on but you get the point.

One piece of this puzzle often left by the wayside is our gratitude at being born Jews, at having a Torah to guide us in our lives. We live on the shoulders of the giants who came before us. They paved the way for us to be able to live our lives freely as Jews.

Along with most people, I take gratitude for granted. When we watch something like the impending hurricane in Florida, I’m sure I’m not the only one who slowed down a bit and took stock of my life and surroundings. 

The month of Elul is the time to take stock of our spiritual life. Somehow G-d always finds a way to nudge us, to remind us of how fortunate we are and, perhaps, to do a little better in whatever we undertake.  

Even if you don’t usually light Shabbos candles, perhaps do so this week. Pray for those who are not well, pray for your families, and pray for those in Florida staring into down the barrel of a loaded gun. 

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