Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  LifeLine
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Rosh Hashanah

by Rabbi Yaakov Menken


The Yom HaDin, the Day of Judgment, is fast approaching. It is a great and awesome Day. And honestly, to write about it is a difficult and awesome responsibility. How can one write, inspire, uplift, about what is at once magnificent and terrifying -- especially when I myself am hardly ready?

So, I was searching for what to say. Then Rabbi Label Lam sent me his own Dvar Torah, which he has provided for the DvarTorah mailing list (send e-mail to dvartorah-subscribe@torah.org to join), and he reminded me of the following:

"On Rosh Hashana, the Head of the Year, there is no mention in the liturgy of misdeeds of the past. Neither are we being asked to make resolutions about the future. Our Sages tell us that at the moment when the Shofar is sounding, a grand review of the troops is sweeping by and the heart of hearts is open for inspection."

Somehow, this paragraph was a beam of clarity. Perhaps I realized that what we need to do -- what I need to do -- is not so difficult, after all.

It is difficult to "do Teshuvah," to return to G-d and abandon misdeeds, especially once they have become our habits. One has to work to ensure that any change for the better is not itself reversed, to ensure that old patterns do not come creeping back. It is frightening! How can I promise G-d, how can I even promise myself, that those days are gone?

That is not the Avodah, the service, the work, of Rosh HaShanah.

On Rosh HaShanah, we read in the Torah that G-d gave Sarah a son, Yitzchak. When Sarah saw Yishmael, Avraham and Hagar's son, "playing," she told Avraham that he must drive Yishmael from their home. G-d told Avraham that he must listen to Sarah -- and Hagar and Yishmael were sent away.

What were the games that Yishmael was "playing?" According to the Midrash, he was committing the cardinal sins of idolatry, adultery, and murder. Another explanation is that he was pretending to play with Yitzchak, but was attempting to shoot him with arrows in order to be Avraham's only son.

Yet when Hagar and Yishmael went into the desert and ran out of water, and Hagar abandoned her child rather than seeing him die -- he repented. He regretted what he had done.

And an angel of G-d came to Hagar and said "Fear not, for G-d has heard the voice of the child, as he is now."

As he is now -- not the murderer that he was. As he is now -- not the father of descendants who will murder thousands of Jews in centuries to come. G-d is judging him as he is now, and will save his life.

We will have a lot of work to do. We will have to ensure that our self-improvement does not turn out to be a set of "New Year's Resolutions" like those which the secular community jokes are broken by January 2nd.

But that is not our work for today. Our job is simply to ensure that when our turn arrives, when G-d looks at us on the Day of Judgment, that what He sees is someone who is committed to doing the right thing.

I don't know how I'm going to do it. I don't know how I'll manage to make the "new me" a permanent change. But I'm not going to worry about that today. Today, I'm just going to be that new person.

Is it terrifying? Of course. But it is profoundly exhilarating as well.

May we all be immediately inscribed in the Book of Life for a year of blessing and happiness, a year of peace for ourselves and for all Israel!

Good Shabbos and Good Yom Tov,

Rabbi Yaakov Menken


Text Copyright © 2002 Project Genesis, Inc.

The author is the Director of Project Genesis.


 






ARTICLES ON LECH LECHA:

View Complete List

The Beginning & End of the Journey
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5760

I Believe
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5766

Environmental Hazard
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5771

Looking for a Chavrusah?

The Lesson of Avraham
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5763

Home Sweet Home
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5773

When Things Don't Go As Planned
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5765

ArtScroll

Our Future Lies in Chevron
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5773

Rabbi Frand on Parshas Lech Lecha
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5767

The Grand Prize of History
Rabbi Label Lam - 5773

> Exile and Redemption
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5763

Reward May Come
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5760

There's No Place Like Away From Home...
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5764

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Reaching for Perfection
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5761

To the Land That I Will Show You
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

The Kindness Factor
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5769

A Self-Starter
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5759



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information