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Bitumen is Boring…

September 29, 2017


Try “green exercise” and take your workout outdoors.” – Sarah Berry[1]

I am going to keep this Blog very short, but I have had a few ideas to share.

In this period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we add some additional text to the silent Amidah[2]. These additions include the phrase “Remember us for life…”.

After doing a run/ race, I normally like to remember a few aspects and try to learn from the experience. Recently I did my first trail run, after being pushed by my mate Aubrey Levy to join him on a trail run in Anglesea on the beautiful Great Ocean Road. The experience is worth remembering. Below are a few points:

  • Bitumen is boring… – I noticed lots of competitors with this phrase on their shirts. I think this is more than just not running on boring black bitumen, but having more of an ‘experience’ for want of a better word. Look we did run on the beach, trails, sand roads, through water and over rocks.
  • Trail running is MUCH harder – There are a few reasons for this including:
    • Running on so many different surfaces;
    • Some of the hills climbs, stairs (up and down) are so difficult to both navigate and to get up. Normally I try not to walk in a race, but this rule does not apply on a trail run; and
    • You need to keep your concentration – going up, down or running on a flat, there are always obstacles, slippery or wet surfaces and there is always the chance for twisting your ankles or falling. Yip, I twisted my ankle, but was very lucky…
  • Can’t get too precious – On a normal run, I try to do all that I can to avoid my runners getting dirty. On this trail run within the first 300m, we had to run through a river on the beach – Yip the mix of sand and water!
  • The scenery is magnificent – What more can I say!
  • I was soo stiff a few days later – DOMS[3]

Nature nurtures the elemental inside of us. It really only takes getting outside and taking a walk on the wild side to experience the effects for ourselves.” – Sarah Berry[4]

In an article in the Herald Sun regarding the Melbourne Storm’s preliminary final win against the Broncos last week. The article mentioned 3 Things we learnt. I think that some of these lessons are very important for us all. The 3 things mentioned were:

  • Billy is brilliant;
  • Cooper Cronk is tough as; and
  • Finals football is survival of the fittest.

For me, the key point was about the great Billy Slater and how even after so many years in the game he still shows ‘unbridled enthusiasm’ and was ‘still going’ when no one else was. This epitomises a champion and on how he will one day be remembered.

The last thing I want to mention is to remember a few lessons that I learnt over Rosh Hashanah.

  • Rabbi Noam Sendor gave a brilliant Drasha on Avraham’s 10 tests and why different commentators include different tests and why the order of the tests differs. But for me the lesson from having the 10th test was this possibly extra test of “Abraham’s purchase of a burial plot for Sarah (ch. 23)” and the lesson that after going through Rosh Hashanah with these commitments and resolutions to improve ourselves, we now need to implement these into our everyday life. This is what Avraham did when he purchased the plot for Sarah, he knew he knew even after G-d many times promised him the Land of Israel, he was forced to spend an exorbitant amount in the purchase of a plot to bury his wife, but he still acted like a true gentleman.
  • In a brilliant article by HaRav Yehuda Amital z”l titled the ‘Sounds of Silence’. He talks about the fact that even though we cannot always convey our feelings, thoughts, desires and fears into words when we are praying, the power of concentrating while listening to the blowing the Shofar, is a conduit.

Even though the sounding of the shofar on Rosh HaShanah is a decree, it contains an allusion. It is as if [the shofar’s call] is saying:  Wake up, sleepy ones from your sleep and you who slumber, arise. Inspect your deeds, repent, remember your Creator. Those who forget the truth in the vanities of time and throughout the entire year, devote their energies to vanity and emptiness which will not benefit or save: Look to your souls. Improve your ways and your deeds and let every one of you abandon his evil path and thoughts.  (Maimonides, Mishne Torah, Hilchot Teshuvah 3:4)”

The Yom Kippur service will end with the blowing of the Shofar. The lesson from this blowing is that it is now time to celebrate. It’s been an otherworldly experience, and now we’ve come out the other end. The blowing of the shofar publicizes to all that the evening following Yom Kippur is a holiday, and it is now time to celebrate the closeness we’ve achieved and the forgiveness we’ve secured during this awesome day. Like soldiers returning triumphantly from battle, we blow the shofar to celebrate our victory over the prosecuting angel, a.k.a. the Satan and we can walk away, certain that we’ve been granted a sweet year.

To end I listened to a brilliant Podcast[5] featuring Dr Frank Lipman[6]. In the Podcast, he mentioned the Xhosa phrase Ubuntu (Zulu pronunciation: [ùɓúntʼù]). He described the word to mean “What Makes us human is the humanity we show each other”, but is often used in a more philosophical sense to mean “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity“.

As we approach Yom Kippur, let us remember experiences, decisions and lessons that we have learnt. I love this lesson from the teachings of Maimonides[7] “…Rather, one should be easy to pacify and difficult to anger…”. In a Blog[8] post by Rabbi Marc Angel, he says “Yom Kippur can be just another external show of piety, or it can be a transformative occasion.” I think the decision is ours….

To end a quote from Rabbi Sacks[9] from last week’s Parsha Ha’azinu – “Moses does not exist in Judaism as an object of worship but as a role model for each of us to aspire to. … Moses continues to inspire.


[1] Sarah Berry lives and breathes her job as Lifestyle Health Editor for Fairfax Media. She is constantly putting her body on the line to test the latest health trends then delving into the science of why they do or don’t work.

[2] The word Amidah literally means standing, because it is recited while standing. It is also known as Shemoneh Esrei, meaning eighteen, because it originally consisted of eighteen blessings, and as tefilah (prayer) because it is the most important Jewish prayer.





[7] Maimonides provides another very important lesson in his Laws of Repentance (2:10)




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