Past Weekly Shabbat Message
Jewish Heritage
Rabbi Dovid Saks
(Torah Portion Shoftim) Tikun Olam!

We are currently in the calendar month of Elul, which of course is an indicator that the High Holidays are soon arriving.

The forty days spanning the month of Elul through Yom Kippur is a unique time for personal introspection, because at the onset of Elul Moshe notified the Jews that G-d indicated He would be willing to atone for the sin of the golden calf. The Jews took advantage of the special closeness G-d had with them, and devoted themselves to sincerely repent. Their dedication, commitment and repentance came to a climax on the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, when Moshe descended Mount Sinai with a second set of tablets. This set of Ten Commandments replaced the first set, which was shattered because of the sin of the golden calf. The tenth day of Tishrei became a day forever synonymous with atonement – Yom Kippur.

Each year the closeness that G-d showed to our ancestors over 3327 years ago repeats itself during these forty days. We are therefore encouraged to be more focused and mindful of our relationship with G-d and our fellow man during this period. In fact, G-d infuses us with a dose of energy so that our move in the right direction goes smoothly.

There are various times during the year that we take fiscal inventory. It could be balancing one’s portfolio or taking stock of one’s inventory. Elul is the time for us to take a spiritual and religious inventory. Elul can be likened to looking in the rear view mirror, making sure that all is clear behind us, thus enabling us to advance forward.

Each of us has an innate drive to make a difference in the world. Today, global change and Tikun Olam are popular adages.

These days are propitious to achieve Tikun Olam.

At the time of creation, G-d told Adam, “On the day you eat from the Tree of Knowledge, you will die.” Yet, when Adam did eat from the Tree, he did not die. Why didn’t Adam die? The Ran explains; it is because he repented. Repentance saved him because it changed him into a new entity and identity.

The question asked is if so, why was Adam punished by being driven out of the Garden of Eden? An answer offered is that there are two consequences of a sin. One is that it drags the person down and secondly it causes a negative impact on the world and the environment.

When Adam repented, it helped to cleanse himself and afford him life. However, the ill affect the sin had on the total spiritual environment of the Garden of Eden was not eliminated and he had to be expelled and placed into our current physical world which is more enduring to the waves of the highs and lows of spiritual levels.

From this we see that listening to G-d actually impacts on our environment. If we uphold the commandments it has a positive effect and if we forsake the commandments it had a negative effect.

When we received the Torah and its many commands, we were charged to follow them, and when we do so, we infuse ourselves and our surroundings with Kedusha – holiness.

However, when we slip, we cause the opposite effect, however, we have been given the benefit and opportunity to counteract sin’s damaging effects by recharging ourselves with Mitzvos - positive deeds, spiritual connectivity and introspection which has the capacity to infuse the world with holy energy and enabling us to reach the ultimate Tikun Olam, when we will merit the arrival of the Moshiach. Then, all will agree that the ultimate peace plan will extend throughout the world!

Wishing you a most enjoyable and uplifting Shabbat!
                    Rabbi Dovid Saks