Dedicated in Honor of My Wife Arlette by Jeffrey Franco
A Golden Opportunity
Before World War I, there was a man who was working in a stone quarry in Jerusalem. He would chisel marble and rock to harvest the stones. One day, a massive boulder fell on his leg, and he was very badly hurt. At that time, the hospitals in Israel were very behind in medical advancements, and the doctor informed the man his suggestion was to amputate the leg. The man refused, and the doctor said, “Well, if you go to the hospital in Vienna, there’s a chance that they will be able to save the leg.”
The man went to his rabbi, who helped raise money for a ticket to Vienna. The man made it to Vienna and arrived at the hospital where the doctor told him it would be a very expensive operation to repair the leg, which he couldn’t afford. The man broke down, left the hospital, and limped to a park bench where he sat and cried bitter tears to Hashem. Suddenly, a beautiful coach rolled up in front of him, and a wealthy-looking man came out to ask him what was wrong. The man opened his heart and told his story to this stranger. The wealthy man wrote a note on a paper and said, “Give this to the doctor at the hospital. They will take care of your problem.”
The man went back to his hotel with the folded note, feeling defeated. He thought, “What will this goy be able to do? He can’t help me.” The man recounted the events of the day to the host at the hotel. The host asked to see the note and gasped, “Do you know who this was? You met the Kaiser, the Emperor of Austria! He signed this note telling the doctors at the hospital to repair your leg! You will be healed!”
The doctors fixed the man’s leg, and he returned to Jerusalem. He went back to his rabbi to tell him about his experience. After he told the story about how the Emperor of Austria came to him and listen to his tearful pleas, the man broke down in tears again. The rabbi said, “Why are you crying? This was a miracle from Hashem!” The man cried, “If I had only known I was speaking to the very powerful Kaiser, I would have asked for the world. I would have asked him for more time. I can’t believe I had his ear, and I let him go so quickly.”
On Rosh Hashanah, we are standing in front of Borei Olam. We stand before the King of Kings, and we have a golden opportunity to do teshuvah and to ask for whatever our heart desires. On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we are incredibly close to Hashem, and it is a sin to take this time for granted. The Rambam says that a person must look at himself as if his scale in heaven is at 50:50. He must take advantage of this amazing opportunity to be close to Hashem, and to do teshuvah, and pray that his mitzvot will outweigh the averot. We read on Rosh Hashanah the stories of Sarah and Chana. Both these women were physically incapable of having children. However, because of Hashem’s infinite kindness, both women’s’ prayers were answered on Rosh Hashanah to teach us that anything is possible on this day. As Rabbi Nachman said, “Prayers have the ability to alter nature.”
A Letter from a Chabad Rabbi
If there was ever a time during our lifetimes that we'd all together cry out to G‑d from the deepest recesses of our hearts, that time is surely now, this Rosh Hashanah. “Who shall live and who shall die… Who shall be tranquil… Who shall suffer… Who shall be humbled.” This has all suddenly become so much more tangible and real. If we ever lost perspective about what's truly important; if we ever got carried away with our positions, our money or our power (including our lack of them); the radical changes our world has undergone have shaken us to the core, given us a reality check, reminded us what's fleeting and what is forever.
In fact, along with the immense upheaval and displacement, we've been blessed. We've been granted new humility, new appreciation for our collective interdependence, and new recognition of our deeply personal and palpable responsibility to our Father in Heaven, Master of the World! We also learned that we cannot be complacent, we can't simply sit back and rest on our laurels. We must all act now.
We must each incorporate more time in our lives for G‑d — to think about our responsibility to Him, and to act on His loving lifelines to us, His Torah and His mitzvot. We must each uplift and make sacred our homes. And we must each take more time and spend more of our precious resources to help one another — and to remember the truth that when we do so we're really helping ourselves!
Let It Go
It says in Masechet Rosh Hashanah, “Kol hamaveir al medotav, maavereyn lo kol pashav – Anyone who relinquishes his measures of retribution (tolerantly drops a disputed matter – Rashi), the Heavenly courts will relinquish all his sins for him (17a).” In other words, “If one doesn't judge others and is able to walk away, Hashem will also judge him favorably!”
The very fact that the chance to do teshuvah was gifted to us by Hashem teaches us to take advantage of that opportunity. There's a story in Gemarah Yoma that illustrates this point. When Rav Zeira would have grounds for a grievance against someone, he would repeatedly pass by the offender, thereby making himself available to him to appease him and ask forgiveness. Rav had grounds for grievance against a certain butcher and the butcher had not come by to ask forgiveness. So on the day before Yom Kippur, the Rav went by the butcher to make himself noticed in order to catalyze a reconciliation. When the butcher saw him, he said “Go away, I have nothing to discuss with you!” as he was breaking the bones of an animal’s head. A bone then shot out and hit him in the throat, and the butcher died on the spot! The story teaches that when you have the chance to appease your friend and make peace, take advantage of the opportunity! The butcher had to face Hashem with that unresolved dispute ben adam lehavero – between man and his friend.
Over the next few days, please take an opportunity. Don’t wait until the last minute. Pick up the phone and make the call to a family member, a neighbor, an old friend who might have been hurt by something you said or did. I guarantee you will feel it is the right thing to do. It will also help bring out all the blessings Hashem has in store for you this coming year.
11 Reasons Why We Blow the Shofar
Just as trumpets are sounded at a coronation, the shofar crowns G‑d as King.
The shofar is like an alarm clock that wakes a sleeping soul on Rosh Hashanah.
Just as it was blown at Har Sinai, the shofar reminds us to rededicate ourselves to Torah.
The sound of the shofar is like the voice of the neviim—prophets, who told us to correct our ways.
The shofar’s cry reminds us of the cries and tears shed for the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash.
The shofar is a ram’s horn, reminding us of Akedat Yitzhak and of our own capacity for self-sacrifice.
It fills us with awe and humility as we contemplate how Hashem fills all space and time.
We blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah to remind us to examine our deeds and see how we can improve them.
Like the shofar when Mashiah comes, the sound of the blast will remind us of G-d’s salvation in our everyday lives.
The shofar during Mashiah will be at a time of universal understanding that Hashem is King, and the shofar on Rosh Hashanah reminds us of this unity.
The call of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah reminds us of the cries of the soul yearning to return to Hashem.
May we all remember to take advantage of the golden opportunity we have during Rosh Hashanah, to pray to Hashem, to do teshuvah, and to ask for anything, even if it seems impossible. May we witness the incredible miracles of Hashem answering our prayers for the good. May we help others and help ourselves by giving tzedakah, doing hessed, and righting our wrongs. May we listen to the sound of the shofar announcing Mashiah’s arrival soon! Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and fulfilling year of accomplishments, mitzvot and maasim tovim! Amen!
Shabbat Shalom and Tizku Leshanim Rabot!
Rabbi Amram Sananes as written by Jack Rahmey
Do we take our golden opportunity for granted? Do we remember that we are standing directly before Hashem on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur?
Eliyahu Ben Rachel
Rabbi Shimon Chay Ben Yaasher
Avraham Ben Garaz
Sarah Bat Chanah
Esther Bat Sarah
Avraham Ben Mazal
Shulamit Bat Helaina
Rabbi Meyer Ben Chana
Rahamim Ben Mazal
Batsheva Bat Sarah Esther
Rafael Ben Miriam
Ovadia Ben Esther
Rav Haim Ben Rivka
Moshe Ben Mazal
Moshe Ben Yael
Yitzchak Ben Adele
Avraham Ben Mazal
Meir Ben Latifa
Chanah Bat Esther
Yaakov Ben Rachel
Malka Bat Garaz
Moshe Ben Garaz
Avraham Ben Kami
Yaakov Ben Leah
Mordechai Ben Rachel
Chacham Shaul Rachamim Ben Mazal
Natan Ben Rachel
Saadia Ben Miriam
Eliyah Ben Latifa Simhon
Margalit Bat Mazal
Ovadia Haim Ben Malaky
Rabbi Aharon Chaim Ben Ruchama
Esther Bat Menucha
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