With Elul upon us, everyone's mind is increasingly focused on Rosh Hashana & Yom Kippur and doing all we can to be blessed for a good year.
I just finished watching a wonderful talk by Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky (“Suspending our Disbelief” https://torahanytime.com/#/lectures?v=65567) about what inspires people and how to improve their connection to Hashem.
He ended with thoughts about how we can make a meaningful improvement during Elul, saying the best way is to commit to something that will not be too hard, so we will stick with it. He talked about two Torah greats--Reb Yisroel Salanter and Rav Shach.
Rabbi Orlovsky quoted Reb Yisroel Salanter as saying, not to take on big things, take on small ones, and that Rav Shach, Rosh haYeshiva of Ponovez, said he took on that on Shabbos he would bentch with a bentcher, not by heart--he chose something that was doable.
Mindful Mitzvahs is a perfect thing to take on--anyone can do it!
1. Every day say at least one bracha focusing on the meaning of Hashem's name. Optimally, also say the daily Kavanah Declaration in the morning
2. Every day do at least one mitzvah with thinking or saying before, "I am fulfilling the mitzvah of ____, as Hashem commanded" (optional. add: as a zechus for Klal Yisroel.)
3.Thank Hashem for your problems (as Rabbi Shalom Arush says in his seforim Garden of Gratitude and Say Thank-you And See Miracles)
4. Consider things to help others come closer to Hashem (fulfilling that mitzvah, as Hashem commanded), such as sharing Kavanah Kards and Mindful Mitzvahs. Every time someone does, you get great schar.
As Rabbi Orlovsky says, you don't need to turn your life upside down. Simply do whatever Mindful Mitzvahs you can for the next 40 days--and hopefully ongoing. And, if you can do 2 a day, so much the better!
The Mindful Mitzvahs Pamphlet and Kavana of Mitzvahs have all the information to help you. Share it too. Of course, you can get Kavanah Kards to use and share. Just let us know.
Here are comments from some people who have been doing Mindful Mitzvahs:
You mentioned to me last year the idea of thanking Hashem when something goes wrong, and I thought that was a bit much for me, but I've actually tried it and it does work for me - as long as I can say it from a place of acceptance and not bitterness. So thank you for the idea and the chizuk! -Queens, NY
When I started the first 40 days I think I told you about the hashgacha that got me to do it but aside from that I also received some Rav Arush mini books I had ordered around the same time and they gave me a jolt about some health issues that I needed to get on top of.
In general most people are happy to participate in the project and some are quite enthusiastic, like I said one of the rabbis here jumped on it and found the issue about think or say vs. just say before mitzvot and it's a credit to the devoted population that frequents his father's shul!
Plus there was the other story in the winter when I went to a small women's event and started giving out the cards and someone I knew was excited as she had started to work on this area of avoda in her life. Then the Chabad Dayan here, incorporated the whole idea of the kavanah behind the words of a beracha into his discussion about the Rambam, without even knowing we had brought the visual aid of the cards themselves! This leads me to the idea that these cards do more than just getting individuals to improve our avoda but it's uniting different communities of Jews to work together in unity to get closer to Hashem. - Montreal
Rabbi Wallerstein said in a shiur I watched recently that it is not the gadolim, but the average person who will bring Moshiach through their tehillim and other things to come closer to Hashem.
Mindful Mitzvahs is just such an opportunity and NOW is the perfect time to take it!