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Mindset - A Note From Rabbi Avi Spodek - 3/9/17

In her book, "Mindset," Carol Dweck explains that it is not only our abilities and talents that bring us success, but that a willingness to learn and grow, and a positive, optimistic belief in our ability to do so are vital (determining) factors in our success. Dweck posits that it is "mind over matter", and she presents the research to back up the idea that a belief in oneself is the key to individual success.
 
Dweck's term, "mindset", can probably be best captured by the Hebrew word, "kavanah", a term that is used in Jewish practice in the context of the fulfillment of mitzvot. Mitzvot require the performer to have kavanah in order for the mitzvah to be properly fulfilled. On a basic level, this means that the performer must understand what she/he is doing, and why. And in certain cases, the performer of the mitzvah must also enter with a goal in mind for performance of the mitzvah.
 
A couple of weeks ago, at the beginning of the month of Adar, we celebrated on campus with singing and dancing, adhering to the rabbinic adage "When Adar comes in, we increase our joy." This week we continued increasing our joy with Spirit Week, and this Sunday and Monday we will take it to a whole other level with Purim celebrations in the community and the annual Purim carnival on campus.
 
Much of this joy may seem artificially generated, but we should also appreciate what these celebrations do for us.  Because this time of the year is really no different from any other time of year; the weather continues to be fickle, our sports teams win some and lose some and we continue to experience the ups and downs of life.  What makes this time of year joyful is our conscious commitment to transforming this time into a joyous experience. By intentionally "increasing our joy" we create a mindset that sets us up for actual joy.
 
Brachot and best wishes to all of the Akiba community for a Shabbat Shalom and Purim Sameach!

Rabbi Avi Spodek
Middle School Principal