Stop. Think. The very next thing you do will tip the scales, either toward the good or toward the bad. Maimonides teaches, “Throughout the entire year, you should always look at yourself as equally balanced between merit and sin and the world as equally balanced between merit and sin. If you perform one sin, you tip the balance and that of the entire world to the side of guilt and bring bad consequences upon yourself. On the other hand, if you perform one mitzvah, you tip the balance and that of the entire world to the side of merit and bring deliverance and salvation to yourself and others” (Laws of Repentance 3:4). Yesterday, we began the Hebrew month of Elul, a time of intense preparation for the upcoming High Holidays. For a full month, we are called to look closely at our lives, open our hearts, and prepare to start anew at Rosh Hashanah. As we enter this sacred time, Maimonides’ teaching is a clarion call: There is no such thing as a “throw-away” action; everything we do and say matters! So this month, especially, let us remember to stop and think before we act. Because at this moment, and at every moment, the scales are perfectly balanced, and the very next thing we do or say will tip them in one direction or the other, for ourselves and for the entire world.   

-Rabbi Brian Stoller