ROSH HASHANA SURVIVAL KIT

0 Posted by - September 18, 2014 - Chagim

ROSH HASHANA SURVIVAL KIT


My

8 year old daughter came back from school and brought home a beautiful concept.聽 Her Morah, her teacher, was displaying the Shofar to the class, showing them its shape, its colors. One end is thin, while the other end is wide. My daughter raised her hand from the back of the classroom. “Morah, didn鈥檛 you teach us that when we do Teshuvah, Hashem says 驻转讞讜 诇讬 驻转讞 讗讞讚 砖诇 转砖讜讘讛 讻讞讜讚讛 砖诇 诪讞讟 讜讗谞讬 驻讜转讞 诇讻诐 驻转讞讬诐 砖讬讛讬讜 注讙诇讜转 讜拽专谞讬讜转 谞讻谞住讜转 讘讜 聽聽Open up for Me one Entrance of Teshuva the size of a needle’s hole , and I will open up for you entrances that wagons can pass through! (Shir Hashirim Rabbah 5, 3) My daughter asked the Morah, 鈥淐ould this be a lesson that we learn from the shape of the Shofar, that Teshuva, for us, is just to start, to take the first step, and Hashem helps us out with the rest, opening up gateways to connect to Him?鈥 Allow me to expound on this concept.

The Shofar is amazing, for, in appearance, it is quite unimpressive.聽 It looks like a simple horn, but it is the strongest weapon of the Jewish Nation. 讻讬 讞拽 诇讬砖专讗诇 讛讜讗 诪砖驻讟 诇讗诇拽讬 讬注拽讘 For the Mitzvah of the Shofar is a Hok, a Mishpat of the G-d of Yaakov. Hok and Mishpat both mean statute. But the difference is that Hok is a law whose meaning we do not know , while Mishpat is a law that we can understand. This sheds light on the Rambam…聽 聽讗注”驻 砖转拽讬注转 砖讜驻专 讘专讗砖 讛砖谞讛 讙讝讬专转 讛讻转讜讘, 专诪讝 讬砖 讘讜 聽Even though blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashana is a Law for which we are given no reason, still, the Shofar comes to hint something to us.注讜专讜 注讜专讜 讬砖讬谞讬诐 诪砖讬谞转讻诐 讜讛拽讬爪讜 谞专讚诪讬诐 诪转专讚诪转讻诐 讜讞驻砖讜 讘诪注砖讬讻讬诐 讜讞讝专讜 讘转砖讜讘讛 讜讝讻专讜 讘讜专讗讻诐 聽It is to wake us up from our spiritual slumber… (Rambam Teshuva 3; 4)

There is a self- help gem buried between these words. If the Shofar is intended to be a “wake-up” call for us, why does the message have to be hinted at? Why does the Torah not just go straight to the point and tell us that we are to wake up and do Teshuva? The answer to this question is the secret to waking up spiritually. A person can wake up spiritually only if he uses his brains, his creativity, expending effort to figure out what he should be doing, from the hints that life throws in his path. Only if he picks up the hints that G-d is sending him. If you tell someone off, they just do not listen. You’ve got to hint it to him. Let him realize it on his own. The Shofar does not have an explicit meaning. Because, there is nothing that can be more meaningful and powerful than an observation you come to on your own. My daughter came up with an eye-opening insight, her own meaning of the Shofar. So, I made my own observation about her observation.

It is annoying when we get “woken up”, and we find ourselves unable to change. It is something like when you wake up late and you have to catch a train,…. but you can鈥檛 find your shoe. You’re awake, but you are jammed. You are so trapped in your behaviors that even if you wanted to change, you couldn鈥檛 do it. You have been trying to “get things moving” during the whole month of Elul, but you seem to be, still, in the same place. You can鈥檛 stop speaking Lashon Hara, even if you want to . You can鈥檛 learn more Torah, even if you try. You are just like a person who is walking up a downward escalator. How sad.

But then, the Shofar screams out; it tells you that you’ve got it all wrong. G-d did not ask you to change. He asked you to try. Not even try your best. Just try. Keep trying, and He will open the doors of change for you. He will accept you, as long as you accept Him, and let Him into your life, even just a crack.

The Point of A Needle

Why does the Midrash talk about the hole a needle makes in a cloth? Why not the hole a nail makes in a piece of wood?聽 Because in order for someone to repent, one needs to soften himself up, being as pliable as material, not stiff, like wood. Only then can one do real Teshuva. What does it mean, to be soft, like material, or stiff, like wood?

There is a great saying. From the moment I heard it, it has just been floating around in my head. 鈥A person is always in one of two modes. Either 讗讬谉 注讜讚 诪诇讘讚讜 , or, 讗讬谉 注讜讚 诪诇讘讚讬.鈥澛 A person is always in one of these two zones. There is nothing else in the world except G-d. Or, There is nothing else in the world except for Me.聽 You cannot be in both zones simultaneously.聽聽 We say, or are supposed to say, each morning in the beginning of Shaharit. 讜诪讜转专 讛讗讚诐 诪谉 讛讘讛诪讛 讗讬谉…. Literally, there is no way in which Man is superior to an animal, other than the fact that Man has a Neshama, while the animal does not. The Kotzker spices up this saying with his unique Hassidic wit. The only plus of Man over the Animal is the ability to be 讗讬谉, or “unimportant”. I.e., an animal is always thinking about its own survival, or 讗谞讬, Me. Betsy the Cow, is worried about Betsy, and Rexie the Dog, is worried about Rexie鈥檚 dog food. Humans can transcend themselves, be considerate, and let others’ priorities be a priority. Being considerate of others, instead of being self-centered, helps Man bring G-d into his personal world.

Now, let鈥檚 play around with the letters of 讗谞讬 , Me. If we bring G-d into Me, i.e., if we move the letter 讬 , the letter of G-d and the letter of the Neshama,(see Zohar in beginning of M.Ruth)聽 into the center of Me, into the center of our priorities, into the center of the word 讗谞讬, then we get the word 讗讬谉, Nothing. I am nothing, without G-d. This ability to make room for G-d in our lives, to put Him in the center of our priorities, is the greatness of Man over animal. But, if the spiritual part of Me is the last priority, the 讬 gets pushed to the end of the word, and all that is left is 讗谞讬, and “he” is nothing better than an animal.

The difference between a聽 garment and a piece of wood is that a garment makes room for a needle and thread, it has room inside it for something other than itself. A piece of wood, has no room inside it for anything else, and so the nail is only wedged into it. One can do real Teshuva only by opening a crack just big enough for the letter 讬 to enter. As long as a person’s thoughts revolve around himself, his money , his fame and honor or his temptations, there is no room for 鈥渉ints鈥. There is no room for G-d.

The “latest” in psychology is that for an addict to overcome addictions, he has to recognize the fact聽 that he is addicted. That he is not in control. He needs to pray to G-d to help him change. It is the only way to overcome habit. G-d. 讗诇诪诇讗 讛拽讘”讛 注讜讝专讜 讗讬谞讜 讬讻讜诇 诇讜 聽(Kiddushin 30b) The bent shape of the Shofar teaches us this lesson of humbleness. 讻诪讛 讚讻讬讬祝 讗讬谞讬砖 讚注转讬讛 讟驻讬 诪注诇讬 聽(Rosh Hashana 26b) . The more a person humbles himself during Rosh Hashana, the better. This is the lesson that we are to learn from the bent Shofar. To bend ourselves, and allow G-d in.

And one last word about the point of a needle. If you have ever blown a shofar, you know how it feels to channel all the air, everything you’ve got, into that one point. If your strength is spread out over too much territory, you cannot change. You need to have just one point, that you want to change. You give all you’ve got to G-d by just changing one thing.聽 That’s how you make an opening, an Entrance of Teshuvah, by directing all your energy to make a small change in your behavior, the size of of a needle’s hole.

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