Keep Focused!

Jonathan Rosenbloom brought out the following point in an article he wrote in the wake of the September 11th attacks:

The coming of Moshiach is a fundamental belief of Judaism. But even one whose belief is firm might find it difficult to imagine how his coming will unfold, and how all people and nations will change their previous views and recognize that G-d is Supreme, and that we are His chosen nation.

Then on September 11, 2001, in just one hour, the life of every person changed. A single plot involving 19 wicked people changed the entire world. Terror became part of the lives of Americans.

Now, if terror has the power to radically change people, surely the influence of genuine goodness can effect a major transformation in them. Moshiach’s arrival will be so compelling that everyone will call out, “G-d is One and His name is One!”

We are currently in the ten special days that span from Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur, known as the Ten Days of Repentance.

Our Prophets shared with us that during this time of the year G-d is extremely close to us and He yearns for our expressions of repentance, prayer and Tzadaka, in order that we acquire a positive judgment.

Often people say it is too hard to change, and even when they muster the courage to try to make a resolution, they rationalize that since they lack a complete commitment it is useless even trying to begin.

A dear friend of mine shared with me that he felt like a hypocrite. “Here I am observing and being committed to one Mitzvah, while I am lax with other Mitzvos.” He asked me, “Is it worth it, for after all, ‘whose kidding who?’”

Thank G-d, for the times He sends us the right and effective words to say.

I explained, “You would have a point if you were satisfied with the level of observance you are currently at. However, if you view yourself as traveling on a journey to reach a desired spiritual goal, then each Mitzvah and slight commitment energizes you to reach the next level and eventually you will reach the goal you set for yourself.”

This friend recently told me that this idea and concept continually motivates and stimulates him to take the next step.

The Chofetz Chaim – Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan o.b.m. had an uncanny ability to use an illustration to accurately drive home a point.

There were two countries that had a major feud. All the king’s negotiations through his advisers proved futile. Out of desperation the king turned to the general population for perhaps there was some untapped talent or resource that could hammer out a deal. The king offered the following reward, “The person who resolves the dispute will be allowed into my personal treasury for an hour and take whatever he wishes!”

A person stepped forward, and lo and behold, he was able to end the feud between the countries.

The king was a man of his word and invited the man to enter his treasury and take his reward. An advisor reasoned with the king, “This person is likely to deplete your treasury within the hour that he spends there.” The advisor came up with a plan. “I know that this person has a passion for music. I will hire the best orchestra and have them play while he is in the treasury. The beautiful and exquisite music will most likely distract him.”

As the man was ushered into the treasury, he was immediately drawn to the music that was playing. He was able to pull himself away momentarily to grab what he could. However, the orchestra began playing a famous piece and he became enraptured with the music. Each time he recalled why he was there the music became more exquisite and he was drawn to it. Finally, the hour was up and he was ushered out with just a few gems that he had picked up.

Says the Chofetz Chaim, this is in essence the story of our life. G-d placed us in this beautiful world with the charge that we amass exquisite and priceless gems of Torah and Mitzvos.

However, the evil inclination within us wishes to distract us from acquiring these eternal riches and sets up all types of distractions to divert our attention from what is essential to forge a  meaningful connection with the Almighty and reap the ultimate rewards.

The Shofar on Rosh Hashana serves to awaken us to refocus on what is important in our mission in life. Our Sages tell us that on Rosh Hashana we go through a rebirth and we are renewed. During these special days that follow, we have the opportunity to focus on the ultimate gems G-d set for us in the Torah. We can also repair those commitments about which we were lax through repentance, which also helps us not fall back into the same pattern.

This Shabbos is called Shabbos Shuva – a term borrowed from the beginning word of the special Haftorah we read.

Rabbi Gedalia Schor o.b.m. related something very powerful and exquisite about Shabbos. All Mitzos that we observe are like spiritual gems that we acquire, however, the tranquil, serene and uplifting environment that envelopes us during our observance of a sanctified Shabbos is akin to being within the atmosphere of G-d’s treasury!

The gems that we amass during the Shabbos are a source of blessing for all that we will touch in the coming week!