Sunday, October 2, 2016

Rosh Hashanna 5777 - The Future Matters More than the Past

Malchus means that we are Avadim. Being avadim means doing the Master's will. What we did wrong in the past is terrible, and it is essential that we cleanse our past failings through teshuva, but to some extent, that serves us. Serving Hashem means dedicating our lives to Him, and that has to do with the future.

Rosh Hashanna, is more about resolution than regret. Determine with sincerity that you want to do Hashem's will in the coming year, and that is the truest and deepest קבלת עול מלכות שמים.

The limits of our natural talents and the constraints of our circumstances do not matter. As we say every morning, before Hashem, we are practically nill- כאין לפניך. But whatever we are and whatever we have and whatever circumstances we are placed in, all of this is in order to do Hashem's will accordingly. In the olam ha'emes, a billionaire who gave only a hundred million not only might not be as chashuv as a poor man that gave one dollar, he might be seen as a failure in the parsha of tzedaka.

There is no denying that our ability to make proper resolutions and to carry them out depends on who we are. Our history and habits of thought and action can empower or inhibit our resolutions. So teshuva is a component of the future, too. But even so, a focus on what you can accomplish in the future is much more liberating than mourning over a ruined past.

My son, Harav Mordechai, Rosh Kollel of Kollel Hora'ah of America, showed me something from Reb Moshe in the Kol Rom. Reb Moshe says that the three voices of the shofar can and do mean two very different things. On the one hand, it can remind us of Akaviah's mishna in Avos 3:1,
עקביא בן מהללאל אומר, הסתכל בשלשה דברים ואין אתה בא לידי עברה.
דע מאין באת, ולאן אתה הולך, ולפני מי אתה עתיד לתן דין וחשבון.
מאין באת, מטפה סרוחה, ולאן אתה הולך, למקום עפר רמה ותולעה.
ולפני מי אתה עתיד לתן דין וחשבון, לפני מלך מלכי המלכים הקדוש ברוך הוא.
that we come from repulsive matter, we inevitably will end as graveyard dirt, and in between, we face nothing but fighting and suffering and fear and bewilderment. This is the tekiah, teruah, and tekiah- nothing, suffering, and finally nothing, and it helps us to do teshuva.
On the other hand, we are holy souls that stem from the Ribono shel Olam Himself, and before we were born, we existed in perfection and harmony under the Kisei HaKavod, we will certainly end among the holy neshamos in Olam Haba, and in between, we have the precious opportunity to grab mitzvos and do chasadim and change the world as if we were Hashem Himself.  This message, too, is part of the tekiah, teruah, tekiah.
So do you have a choice? Not really. Both messages are vital and essential. The past needs to be overcome and recast, and a glorious future as avdei Hashem is in our grasp, if we only resolve to seize it when we have the chance.


  1. Yashar Koach Rav Eliezer! We must look forward in serving Hashem and have Him as our Master and King. The things you discussed are two big points of Rosh Hashanah.

    Bracha V'Hatzlacha, and G'mar Chasima Tovah!

    P.S. Please check out my blog at achsameach.blogspot

    1. Thank you. I look forward to reading your divrei mussar and chizuk. Yasher koach!

    2. Thank you for your comment! Reb Zaitchik zt"l was a Talmid of the Alter of Novhardok zt"l. Did you know him?

    3. He also learned with Reb Chaim Shmuelevitz.
      I knew him, and his extended family, through my connections with the Jofens.

  2. Wow! That's a big privilege! He wrote a book called Sparks of Mussar. I own a copy and it is very inspirational: Great book.

    G'mar Chasima Tovah!