Rabbi Dovid Saks
Rosh Hashana 5775
One day, a married student studying in a yeshiva in Jerusalem received a surprise visit from a well known therapist. He was even more surprised when the therapist told him he had come to thank him. The student said, “I think you have made a mistake. We have never met before.” “No,” the therapist insisted, “I haven’t made a mistake. I came to tell you that you did more in thirty seconds than I was able to do in six months.” “You see, I have been working with a person who lives in your community that had been having terrible marital problems, had separated from his wife, and was on the brink of divorce.”
The therapist continued, “However, last week you went over to him at the conclusion of one of the prayers in synagogue and simply said, ‘Is that your son praying so nicely? You must be real proud of him.’ He was so happy that someone pointed out something that was going well in his life that it gave him the ability to snap out of his rut and he did something he hadn’t done in years; - he bought flowers for his wife. With that kind gesture everything changed. You don’t know the joy that resonated in this person’s heart from your kind words. I now see them on the road to reconciliation and a happy marriage.”
The therapist continued, “The couple asked me to thank you on their behalf, for those few words of encouragement you gave when they really needed it.”
I am sure many of us can recall vividly special words of encouragement given to us which uplifted us and gave us the energy and confidence to pursue something we doubted we were capable of doing. Perhaps we can apply the message of this story to motivate us as we approach the day of Judgement – Rosh Hashana. At times we feel estranged or detached from our spiritual connectivity and wonder how we can present ourselves before the Almighty on Rosh Hashana? It appears to be an overwhelming task!
Our sages teach us that each Mitzvah that a person performs or observes creates a positively charged angel. This angel reports back to our Father in Heaven and gives Him a Nachas report. “You know what this person is up to….he was careful not to talk ill about another….she was careful of what she ate….he prayed intently…...he gave Tzadaka….he was kind to his spouse….she prepared her home to welcome the holy day of Shabbat.”
Upon hearing the report from the angel, the Almighty is overcome with Nachas – He feels proud that His children are listening to Him - similar to the father who was overcome with delight in the aforementioned story. These seemingly small gestures that we make towards our spiritual responsibilities open up a huge pipeline from the Almighty towards us and our relationship becomes strengthened. Our Sages teach us that one Mitzvah performed, generates energy for us to achieve and fulfill another.
This concept is conveyed to us in the Book of Job, “If there is one interceding angel out of a thousand who pleads his cause, to testify concerning a person’s righteousness…And He [G-d] graces him and says, “Save him from going down to destruction; I have found ransom.”
With this in mind, we can come prepared for Rosh Hashana by making a slight move to come closer to Hashem. Then we will be able to enter Rosh Hashana with confidence and beseech G-d for a blessed New Year!
This past summer, the Ice Bucket Challenge raised tens of millions of dollars for the dreadful ALS illness. Hundreds of thousands of people took the uncomfortable challenge of being doused and drenched by ice cold water. Aside from the sting of the cold water, their clothing had to be changed and laundered. It was a real pain, yet people did it and challenged others to keep the chain going.
If this caused discomfort, why did people do it? The answer is that it was for a good cause and for that we can all deal with a little discomfort. We should honestly ask ourselves, what prevents us from being more attentive to the observance of our Mitzvos and traditions? I think it accurate to say that it is because it seems difficult.
The Ice bucket Challenge taught us that if something is important to us, even if it is difficult, we can still do it!
Rosh Hashana is when we are judged by the Almighty based on a spiritual reckoning. It is the opportune time to examine, assess and consider embracing our inspirational and blessed traditions, thus taking the pleasurable Spiritual Challenge!
Wishing you a blessed and peaceful New Year!
Rabbi Dovid and Malki Saks and family