By Rabbi Pinchas Winston
Today is September 5, 2002, almost exactly one year since the Twin Towers
and the Pentagon were attacked by terrorists, and about 3,000 people were
ruthlessly murdered just like that.
In truth, it seems like the hijacking of the commercial jets and the
atrocity against humanity happened about TWO years ago. So much has
happened since then, especially for the Jewish people, and one wonders, if
so much occurred in 5762, what is in store in 5763? Will things improve, or
It is a question that becomes intensely important at this time of year, as
we step before the Heavenly Court for judgment on Rosh Hashanah, because it
is with THEM that the answer lies. It is They (really God), who will decide
the events of the entire upcoming year, based upon the presentation of
ourselves on Rosh Hashanah, and over the next ten days.
What does He, the King of Kings, want from us? What is He looking for? What
is expected from us, as we take our seats behind the defense table?
In Hebrew, the word is 'hisbatlus,' which translates, conceptually, into
'self-cancellation.' What it means is, surrendering to the need to be part
of the whole, not just for the world's sake, but for our own sake as well.
Though our yetzer hara - our evil inclination - tries to convince us that
hisbatlus is a form of suicide, in reality it is the farthest thing from
it. For, selfishness never ever accomplished anything constructive or long
term. We all know that thinking of one's own self when one could be
thinking of others lowers our self-esteem, no matter how much we justify
it. We know that, even though selfishness can supply some instantaneous
gratification, in the end, we are left with less than that with which we
That's the system, and you can't beat it, because God made the world that
way, because that is the way HE is too.
Evil can damage in the short run, but it can never, NEVER win. It never has
in the long run, and it never will, because this is God's world, His
creation, and He is completely good. Therefore, we fool no one by being
absorbed in our own worlds but ourselves, and Rosh Hashanah is the time
that we show Heaven how much we believe it is true. It is the time that we
reveal (to ourselves), how much we know that the joke is on us, and no one
else, for even the evil that results from selfishness is used by God in the
end to do good, to accomplish the ultimate goals of creation, at the
Take a look for yourself through the portals of the past. Every evil ever
executed has always resulted in two things, if not in the short term at
least in the long run. It has led to the end of the ones who carried it
out, and it resulted in the very good the evil came to prevent from
occurring. Most recently, it was the Nazi's attempt at the complete
annihilation of the Jewish people, with the complicity of so many other,
so-called 'friendly' nations, that resulted in the very homeland for the
Jewish people they sought to block.
Nevertheless, they continue to try to be self-absorbed and win, like a
gambler who keeps losing, believing that at some point in time he will have
to win, if only because he has lost so often already. That's because he
believes in 'luck,' and not God. That's because he believes in 'fate,' and
not Divine Providence. The former is random; the latter is pre-meditative
So why fight the system? What can come from rebelling against the spiritual
undercurrent of creation, if not self-destruction, albeit over a lifetime
(or even many if you factor in reincarnations)? Rosh Hashanah is coming,
and that means the King is coming, and that means sovereignty over
creation, omniscience and omnipotence, and perhaps most important of all, a
master plan for creation.
The only question to ask, therefore, is where do I fit in? HOW do I fit in?
These are not always questions that can be answered on paper or on a
computer screen. Heaven does not have a Manpower office that we can simply
walk into and fill out a questionnaire. Rather, the answers come to us
through messages, sometimes in the form of insights, often in the form of
Hashgochah Pratis - personal Divine Providence - that we might not even
appreciate until after the fact, if at all.
As a result of our hisbatlus, and with our permission and blessing, God
'manipulates' the world in which we live to allow us to find our spot on
His team, and our role within His master plan. The trick is to be open to
the helping hand of Heaven, and not to resist it, either consciously or
unconsciously. That was part of the greatness of our Forefathers: they knew
how to work WITH Divine Providence, and not against it.
The question is, what does it take to be that way?
Well, that brings us back to the hisbatlus idea again. The willingness, no,
the DESIRE to be a team member in the master plan for creation, to know
Ultimate Truth in order to rise above the everyday mundane reality of
Western life. It is that very spiritual and intellectual openness that
clears the way for the light of God to enter the person, in order to
elevate and enwisen him. It is hisbatlus that leaves us spiritually
flexible to the gentle and loving 'bumps' that Heaven gives us to help us
on our way to true self-fulfillment.
None of this should be novel, though judging from almost 6,000 years of
history, it is creation's best-kept secret. Even many who already uphold
Torah and performs mitzvos don't necessarily understand that the end-goal
of this system of life is hisbatlus, abandonment to the ultimate goals of
the Jewish people and creation.
Too bad too, because that is precisely what they take out on Rosh Hashanah:
the hisbatlus scale. One-by-one, we step onto the scale and are measured
for our level of hisbatlus and commitment to the goals of creation. Then,
based upon the reading, Heaven metes out Its response in the upcoming year,
may it come upon us for good.
5762 was a tumultuous year, and, there are storm clouds on the horizon of
5763. Rosh Hashanah and the Asseres Yemai Teshuvah are one day away. The
King is coming, and the court is about to be in session. It is time to move
from only figuring out how to spell 'hisbatlus,' to knowing how to
implement it. "K'siva u'chasimah tovah, l'shanah tovah u'mesuka" - it's all
a matter of hisbatlus.