Food For the Soul
There is a well-known fable of a man in distress looking up to G-d; “G-d, You promised to walk besides me, but when I look behind me I see only one set of footprints trodden into the sands of my life?” And a caring, compassionate voice responds, “My son, those footprints you see are Mine, carrying you as you traveled along your journey.”
We read [in Parsha Nitzavim] this Shabbat how, after the foretold galut (exile) which we are currently suffering, (and if we think we’re not suffering that just shows how blinded to the realities of our unnatural existence we’ve become), “G-d will return home…” Note: not “G-d will return you home”; rather He, too, is in exile, as it were, and the future redemption will see G-d Himself resume His rightful place, as it were, in our common homeland. That G-d accompanies us on every step and stage of our lives, neither abandoning nor rejecting a single Jew, is self-understood and even expected. The theology-shattering implication of the above verse is, that in some way, G-d waits and hopes for our redemption when He too will “come home.”
Prisoners can’t escape without help from the outside. Someone’s got to smuggle in the file, bribe the guards or drive the getaway car. Leaving exile is no different. We rely on G-d to break the boundaries of our separation and remove obstacles both physical (anti-Semites, bus-bombs etc.) and psychological (greed, football) between the way we are and the way we should be.
G-d however, prepared the escape-route, as it were, from before our expulsion and exile. We are guaranteed that G-d is prepared, willing and waiting, to redeem and rejoin us and lead us by the hand to resume our natural state—freedom to be true Jews and truly Jewish.
Rabbi Elisha Greenbaum
Rosh Hashanah is the birthday of the universe, the day G-d created Adam and eve, and it’s celebrated as the head of the Jewish year. It begins at sundown on the eve of Tishrei 1 (Sept. 25, 2022) and ends after nightfall on Tishrei 2 (Sept. 27, 2022).
The central observance of Rosh Hashanah is blowing the shofar (ram’s horn) on both mornings of the holiday (except on Shabbat), which is normally done in synagogue as part of the day’s services.
Rosh Hashanah feasts traditionally include round challah bread (studded with raisins) and apples dipped in honey, as well as other foods that symbolize our wishes for a sweet year.
Other Rosh Hashanah observances include candle lighting in the evenings and desisting from creative work.
For details, visit Chabad.org
Mind Over Matter
Matchmakers of Heaven and Earth
All the cosmos came to be because G-d chose to invest His very essence into a great drama: the drama of a lowly world becoming the home of an infinite G-d. A marriage of opposites, the fusion of finite and infinite, light and darkness, heaven and earth.
We are the players in that drama, the cosmic matchmakers. With our every action, we have the power to marry our mundane world to the Infinite and Unknowable.
Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
“You will return unto G-d… and G-d, your G-d, will bring back your captivity.” (Nitzavim 30:2-3)
Rashi comments: The return of the captivity will be “as though G-d Himself seizes with His hands every single individual from his place, as it is said, ‘you will be gathered up one by one, O Children of Israel’” (Isaiah 27:12). As the redemption will be brought about by teshuvah-repentance (“you will return unto G-d”), it follows that just as the redemption itself will be for “every single individual… one by one,” so, too, every single one shall return unto G-d.
Thus it is stated explicitly in the next verse of Isaiah’s prophecy: “On that day, a great shofar will be blown, and those who are lost in the land of Assyria and those who are cast away in the land of Egypt shall come, and they will bow down before G-d on the holy mountain in Jerusalem” (Isaiah 27:13). In other words, even those who are so deeply immersed in the galut that they became “lost” and “cast away,” they, too, will be awakened by teshuvah.
Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet
Have I Got A Story
I call today upon heaven and earth as witnesses for you. I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. And you shall choose life, so that you and your children may live. (Deuteronomy 30:19)
Do we really need the Torah to tell us to choose life? Which person of sound mind would choose death?
One possible answer is that one must make a conscious decision to live and not just vegetate. And I don’t mean to live it up by living life in the fast lane. To “choose life” means to choose to live a meaningful life, a life committed to values and a higher purpose. Did it make any difference at all in that I inhabited planet Earth for so many years? Will anyone really know the difference if I’m gone? Is my life productive, worthwhile?
It is told that when the fist Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, wanted to bless Reb Yekutiel Liepler with wealth, he declined the offer, saying that he was afraid it would distract him from more spiritual pursuits. When the rebbe then offered to bless him with longevity, Reb Yekutiel stipulated that it should not be “peasant’s years, with eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear, where one neither sees nor senses G-dliness.” Reb Yekutiel was rather fussy, it seems. The holy rebbe is offering him an amazing blessing, and he is making conditions! Yes, he chose life, and he chose to live a life that would be purposeful and productive, and that really would make a tangible difference. He wasn’t interested in a long life if, essentially, it would amount to an empty life.
As we stand just before Rosh Hashanah, let us resolve to choose life. Let us live lives of Torah values and noble deeds. And may we be blessed with a good and sweet new year.
Rabbi Yossy Goldman