THE SILENT WITNESS

0 Posted by - September 30, 2016 - Uncategorized

THE SILENT WITNESS

Parashat Nitzavim

Your best chance at judgment on Rosh Hashanah is to take it seriously. Rosh Hashanah is the time that G-d judges how much you value life as an opportunity to serve Him better. And the “impression” you make on Rosh Hashanah will be the New You for the New Year.

“You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression”. Social science states that after the first 3 seconds, people you meet decided subconsciously if they like you or not. G-d gives you a week to decide what type of impression you want to make, and that will be the New You for the New Year. A lot is at stake during the next week. R. Moshe Shapiro, shlita, was quoted as saying that Rosh Hashannah is the Rosh, the Head of the new year. The whole body is encapsulated in the head; the brain runs every part of the body. And your behavior on Rosh Hashana has control over your behavior for the coming year. The rest of the year depends on your RH performance.

Recently, I moved apartment in Bayit Vegan, Jerusalem. And when moving a family after 10 years, you have a lot of decisions to make. The most common of all decisions was what to throw away and what to keep. My wife and I concluded that the rule of thumb should be something I read in the field of maximizing space and organization. If you had no use out of the item for a whole year, you most probably could get rid of it. The space in your house has more value than the item. Don’t waste space on things you don’t need or on things that have little importance.

And then, I started shaking. I realized that is what Rosh Hashanah is all about. G-d decides on the upcoming fateful day who used his potential, and who was a waste of oxygen. G-d keeps us around to bring G-dliness into the world. G-d kept us around last year, for He decided, that we would fulfill a purpose to justify our being around last year. He believed in us. And now, there is judgment, to see if our merits outweigh our misdeeds. Just like an employer checks to see if his employee is bringing in more than is being spent on him. Is it worth keeping me around? Or do I get tossed out, chas veshalom?

But G-d saves the day.תקעו בחודש שופר בכסה ליום חגינו Blow the Shofar in the (new) month, when (the moon ) is covered for our holiday. כי חק לישרא-ל הוא , משפט לאלוקי יעקב. For this (day’s) law is (a day) beyond logic for Israel. It is a judgement day for the G-d of Yaakov.

Notice that Pesah and Sukkot are on the 15th of the month, Yom Kippur is on the 10th, Shavuoth, on the 6th, and only Rosh Hashanah is on the first of the month, when the moon is covered. בכסה ליום חגינו, “the holiday when the moon is covered”. The moon is symbolic of the Jewish people, as mentioned in Birkat Halevana. The similarity between the two is that both the moon and the Jewish people have times when their light is strong and full, and times when our light is weak – then, we are not noticeable. The Jewish holidays, Pesah and Sukkot, are when the moon is full, to commemorate the times when the Jewish people shone in its full glory. So, why is Rosh Hashanah on the day when it looks dark for us? When the moon is covered?

The Zohar says that on the day of Rosh Hashanah, when G-d is judging the world, the Satan levels his accusations against. “G-d! Your children have sinned!” G-d asks the Satan, “Who are your witnesses? My Torah says that I accept testimony only if there are two witnesses”. So the Satan goes to the Sun, and brings him as a witness. For surely, the Sun can testify to all the sins of each and every Jew. And the sun testifies. And then the Satan goes to look for the Moon to be the other witness. But the Moon is out of sight! It is covered! The Satan has only one witness, when G-d’s Torah requires at least two! This is why we are celebrating Rosh Hashanah, that the moon is covered! And this is why G-d judges us on Rosh Hashanah.( יערות דבש דרוש ×™’ ×›”×” אלול/ מדרש – זוהר חלק ×’’ ער”×”) This is the only way we get out of the sticky judgment. And this is why we are not to mention our sins on Rosh Hashanah, so that there won’t be another witness against us! The gentiles, who do not follow the Torah, accept one witness. So the sun is a witness against them, making judgment against them more difficult. But the Jews have this חק, this Torah law, that another witness is needed to get someone in trouble.

I wondered what this means, that the Moon is covered, so it cannot testify against us. Why can’t the Satan find the moon? Can’t the Satan see in the dark? Can’t the moon testify, even if it is covered?

The answer is that the moon is not just covered. The moon has the power of renewal, and when the moon is covered, it is undergoing renewal. The secret of the Jewish people is that they are able to renew themselves. G-d judges us on Rosh Hashanah by the impression we make on that day, more than anything else. As the Shaarei Teshuva (1 41) cites the Yerushalmi, אם זך וישר היית לא נאמר. אלא אם זך וישר אתה G-d tests how you are now. Rosh Hashanah is a time that you are in the process of renewal. And just as the moon is a different moon, you are a different person. The Satan cannot use the moon, the epitome of renewal, to testify against a nation of renewal. You are a new person, and the Moon knows that the testimony on the old you cannot be used against the new you.

There is one reason why I believe it is fair for me to ask for another year. Because now, I am a year smarter. I have realized what my weaknesses are and what my strengths are. That is why, for a whole month, I am admitting sins, beating my fist against my heart, soul searching and thinking of my sins between the Shofar sets. Because I know that when I am coming into the New Year, I realize where I can go and where I can’t. I realize what stresses me and what builds me. And I realize that without G-d, I am nothing.

Maybe, just maybe, G-d will give me another chance to be a better Jew!

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