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Isn't it pretty?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Rosh Hashanah Thoughts

I can't believe Rosh Hashanah is almost here. I know I have had all of Elul to prepare, but it is still incredible how quickly it creeps up on you. I made my New Year's resolution (wish me luck on that one!), I have been learning a lot, I have even written a few cards to those I miss. But I still don't feel ready to stand in judgment. But can we ever really be ready for that? MCAryeh sent an amazing dvar Torah that he heard from Rav Moshe Weinberger of Aish Kodesh in Woodmere, Long Island. Here is a small excerpt from among the other incredible thoughts that were shared:

The whole selichot can be summed up in two words: amadnu lifanecha - we are standing before you. The Vilna Gaon writes in his commentary on Yonah, when someone is in this world, he sins, and he thinks he is able to run away from his Creator, that he is able to escape. This does not mean he is off the derech. Many of those "off the derech" are not actually so off. Many people "on the derech" are making hakafot. They don't think about it because they are "frum" people. When a person returns to HaShem, he is called a ba'al teshuva, master of return. What does it mean to return? HaShem never leaves. It means to face Him, open ourselves up to His gift of starting again, being brand new. To face HaShem and say I don't want to run away; I don't want to go in circles. I am stopping and standing before You. When we look at You, we are burned with embarrassment and shame, no matter how big our car or our house.
This concept of standing before Hashem is so scary. When I think about looking Hashem in the face, I do burn with embarrassment, as Rav Weinberger says. For several reasons. Most of all because I know that He gave me so much and with it I do so little. There is always some excuse - I am tired, I don't have the money, I need someone to help. Hashem gave me so much potential that I could be using, and I don't feel as if I fulfill it even marginally. I keep telling myself that when I do such and such, then I will focus on this or that. But I need to stop making excuses and start acting. And then I am embarrassed because of those moments when I am actually angry or upset with Hashem for the challenges He has given me. When I do know deep down that those challenges mean two things - 1) that I have been given the means necessary to overcome them, and 2) that I am meant to grow from those challenges and that I will emerge on the other end a stronger, better person. But sometimes I forget that, and I collapse under the pressure meant to make me strong. Sometimes I get caught up in the negative and forget the positive side of things. And then my embarrassment deepens again when I think about those times when Idefiantlyy go against what I know Hashem wants from me. Those actions I took and times in my life when I actually forgot about what He wants for me, and just focused on what I want. Completely forgetting that they should be one and the same. And yet, Hashem is giving me this chance to do teshuva and to start fresh and anew again. He continues to bestow this gift of repentance upon me, year after year, even though I probably don't deserve it. And that is why I should make this next year one in which I won't be embarrassed to face Hashem. Or I should at least strive to make it such a year. Facing Hashem is scary stuff. I hope I remember the love with which Hashem has showered me when I am feeling my embarrassment. And the fact that His love will never go away. For that I, and you, are truly blessed.

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