Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Accentuate the Positive

Sin, guilt, and wrong-doing are staples of the High Holy Days. This is the time each year when Jews around the world meticulously examine the past year and remember all the ways they screwed up. The literal translation of the Hebrew “chet” (sin) is “missing the mark”. All of those missed marks can result in enormous feelings of guilt.

But yesterday our second rabbi Toby challenged us to put our natural feelings of guilt aside and instead to look at what we have done right in the past year. Much of her sermon focused on the following song, which came out in 1944.


(Johnny Mercer / Harold Arlen)

You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between

You've got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium
Liable to walk upon the scene

(To illustrate his last remark
Jonah in the whale, Noah in the ark
What did they do
Just when everything looked so dark)

Man, they said we better
Accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between
No, do not mess with Mister In-Between
Do you hear me, hmm?

(Oh, listen to me children and-a you will hear
About the elininatin' of the negative
And the accent on the positive)
And gather 'round me children if you're willin'
And sit tight while I start reviewin'
The attitude of doin' right

(You've gotta accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between)

You've got to spread joy (up to the maximum)
Bring gloom (down) down to the minimum
Otherwise (otherwise) pandemonium
Liable to walk upon the scene

To illustrate (well illustrate) my last remark (you got the floor)
Jonah in the whale, Noah in the ark
What did they say (what did they say)
Say when everything looked so dark

Man, they said we better
Accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between
No! Don't mess with Mister In-Between

The bottom line is that a positive attitude is the key to happiness.

I’ve done many things I later regretted during the past year. But none of them seems so bad when I consider the good things I have also done.

Thanks, Toby, for asking us to look at the bright side of things.

And thanks also to the 7 individuals who spanned 4 decades in age and who gave us a symphony of shofars in yesterday’s Rosh Hashanah service. It was indeed a moment of AWE!


Blogger Kristin said...

I think I'm going to be singing this all day. It's a great message and attitude really does make a difference.

10:10 AM  
Blogger bulletholes said...

Every time I hear that song it makes me want to move the rubber plant and go swingin' from a star.
hi Barbara!

11:02 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin, Bulletholes -- It is a catchy melody. I have memories of listening to that song on the Arthur Godfrey (radio) program while I helped my mother clean house when I was too young to go to school. She always sang along (a little off-key) with everything!

11:10 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

I love that song! You never see pop songs with such positive messages these days!

11:34 AM  
Blogger e said...

Ditto...I love that melody!

Good for your rabbi for reminding you to accentuate the positive because Rosh Hashanah is also about growth, renewal and potential.

PS: Thanks again for your help with the Hebrew. I had no idea you were going to order the book!
You are so generous!

12:17 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Steve -- Just like the newspapers don't report much good news. There's simply no demand for the positive in today's world!

E -- The Hebrew review will be good for me too. It's just another one of those things I will probably never master, but I'm willing to keep learning.

1:07 PM  
Blogger edward said...

a very nice song. i have ella mae morse singing it.
another happy song is dont worry be happy. there are so many songs to make you happy. a smile is my umbrella on a rainy day.

8:06 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Edward -- You seem very knowledgeable about old music for such a young cat! I don't think too many people are singing these happy songs these days unfortunately.

11:13 PM  
Blogger mouse (aka kimy) said...

wonderful post. although I'm not jewish I have long thought this holiday and its advice has been completely ON TARGET (as with the highest of holy days - yom kippur - atonement - good stuff)

I have always enjoyed that mercer song and it too is on target ....thanks for giving me a good ear worm to head to bed with.

guilt is definitely not a feeling to spend too much time with... make peace, get over, move on.

hugs.....happy new year!

11:49 PM  
Blogger d. chedwick said...

Happy New year!

11:58 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Mouse -- It is a rather nice song to nod off to sleep with!

Ched -- Thanks so much! I hope to meet you one of these days. You seem to have entertained quite a few of my favorite Bloggers this year.

12:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Fox and the Hound-- a Disney movie. The owl was singing that song. Good grief-- why do I know that? B/c my girls watched it 10,000 times a few years ago!! Tina

2:19 PM  
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