Right Here

(Torah Portion Nitzavim ) Right Here!

Mendel, a known vagabond in the Brooklyn area, was content with the condition of his life, a life that would have been unbearable for just about anyone else.

When Mendel became weak and frail, a generous and caring family took him into their nursing facility and provided him with his medical and hygienic needs until his passing. During his stay he surprised his visitors with his wit, candor and insight.

Mendel once pointed out that at the Pesach Seder during the Mah Nishtana we ask, “Why on all other nights of the year, we don’t dip even once, yet on the eve of Pesach we dip twice?”

Mendel asked a very good question. There is another time during the year when we also dip twice and we do not ask, “Why?” That is during the meal of Rosh Hashana eve when it is customary to dip a piece of Challa – bread – into honey, and we also dip a sweet apple into honey. Why asked Mendel do we not ask the same question on Rosh Hashana as we do on Pesach?

Mendel answered poignantly. “You know, human nature is such, that when things are bitter like when we dip a vegetable into saltwater that represents tears or when we dip the Morror which represents the bitterness of our slavery, at such times, we tend to ask, why this happened to me.

“However, when things are sweet – when life is good and things are going well, as represented by the dipping of the Challa and apple into sweet honey, human nature is that we tend not to ask, “Why am I deserving for G-d to reward me with such good fortune?”

What an insight!

In truth, although we do not explicitly mention the question why we were granted life for the past year – when we dip our Challa and apple into honey, we do feel gratitude to G-d for giving us life and receiving all His blessings. This feeling is evident throughout Rosh Hashana, for when we beseech G-d for life for the coming year we recognize that all rests upon His Will.

It is this trepidation and gratefulness that draws all of us to the Synagogue to pray and be spiritually awakened by the Shofar call. By our design and nature we are an eternally grateful people – that is who we are. Rosh Hashana motivates and stirs up within us the emotions we inherited from our patriarchs Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaacov. It is a time for us to look at ourselves and say, “I can come closer to the Almighty for I am part of His Kingdom and have been kept alive because I am an integral component of it.” We therefore express through our prayers, ‘that if I am granted life for the coming year, I will excel and connect myself to You – Almighty!’

One may wonder, where can I find connectivity with the Almighty? Do I have to travel to Israel or go and experience the wonders of the world to achieve a spiritual uplift?

The holy Chofetz Chaim o.b.m. would cite the following incident as a motivation for all of us.

When our leader Moshe was shepherding his flock, he noticed a phenomenal sight, a thorn bush was enveloped in fire, yet it was not being consumed. Moshe came close to check it out. It was then that G-d appeared to Moshe and told him to remove his shoes from his feet, “For the place where you are standing is holy earth.”

Says the Chofetz Chaim, Moshe didn’t initially recognize that Mount Sinai, the place he was standing on, was holy. However, once G-d told him that the Jews would eventually receive the holy Torah on that place, he took off his shoes and directly felt the connection.

The same concept applies to each and every Jew. He should never be dismayed to think that it is too overwhelming and difficult to further his connection with the Almighty, because, “The place where you are standing is holy.” Wherever you are standing is holy earth and you have the ability to come closer to G-d. G-d brought you to that place for a specific reason and it is right there where you can feel motivated and connected.

The one essential thing one is to do on such an uplifting moment is to, “Remove your shoes from your feet.” Remove that which inhibits you spiritually from receiving the spiritual energy between you and the Almighty. This way you will be able to feel the holy ground that rests right under your feet!

Wishing you a most enjoyable & uplifting Shabbos and a happy and healthy sweet New Year!
Rabbi Dovid & Malki Saks & family