Derech Alumni News

Parshas Nitzavim

Shalom, Derech Alum!

Mazel tov to Aharon Weinstein on his chasana!

Mazel tov to Joe Zarmati on his chatuna!

Mazal tov to Isaac Manahim on his chatuna!

Deepest Condolences to Rav Pitem on the Petira of his sister and brother-in-law.

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LAST FEW DAYS BEFORE ROSH HASHANNA -Eli Gray, Derech Alum

We spend the month of Elul saying L’David twice daily, the theme of which is our desire to have a closer connection to G-d.

Why is this the prescribed preparation for the upcoming Day of Judgement? Shouldn’t it be something that speaks about Teshuva and regretting our past iniquities?

Then we come to the tefillos of Rosh Hashana. The running theme of the day’s prayers is not as we might expect it to be. If you look at the Tefilos we say, they focus on coronating G-d as our King, with nary a word mentioned about Teshuva

To answer these questions we have to take a closer look at Tefila, and what its purpose is.

The phraseology Chazal chose to use for our daily Tefila is in the form of requests, asking G-d for things we want and need. Yet logically this doesn’t make sense. For if G-d is just and all-good, as we say He is, then what can we accomplish by making these requests? If I deserve it, I will get it, and if I don’t deserve it then I shouldn’t ask for it. What is going on?

Let’s start by looking at the word Lihispallel. R' Hirsch points out that this is the reflexive ofPallel, to judge (see Shmuel Aleph 2:23) The purpose of prayer is to hold oneself up to evaluation against the standards embedded in the prayers, and to assess and thus correct one's intentions in a never ending quest for self-perfection.

It is also an exercise to work on our ratzon, of changing our desires. We phrase our prayers as requests because prayer helps us channel our desires toward more sophisticated goals, those more aligned with the source of the soul. They help us create a more intimate relationship with G-d as well as self-evaluate according to the standards inherent in the prayers, ultimately with the intent to grow from our self-assessment.

We say Mala Ha’aretz Kinyanecha in Birchas Krias Shema, which the Magid of Mezrich points out can be understood as, “The world is full of opportunities to acquire You, Hashem”

One of the purposes of the Yomim Noraim is for us to retune our focus, to retune our frequencies so that we are always on the lookout for these opportunities to get closer to and connect with G-d.

The purpose and goal of Elul is not Teshuva in the way we know it, that of repentance. While repenting for our sins is a necessary component, it is not the objective. Rather it is, as the word actually means, Lashuv - to return.

During these days we strive to focus on our relationship with G-d and take stock of where we are and how we can strengthen the relationship and get closer. As Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim says: A person is susceptible to judgment and harm only to the extent that he is disconnected from G-d.

With this in mind it makes perfect sense as to why L’David is the Tehillim of choice, with its theme of yearning for a closer relationship with G-d and recognizing that everything comes from Him.

With this understanding we can make the blessing over the shofar, in which we say. Lishmoah Kol Shofar To Hear the Voice of the Shofar. Proper fulfillment of this mitzvah is not the blowing of the Shofar, but rather the hearing of its sound. The sound calls upon us to reconnect, to be tuned into the voice of G-d, who is always in constant conversation with us.

The stronger the connection between us and God, the better we are able to fulfill the goal ofRosh Hashahna, that of re-focusing on our relationship and the awe and love we are to have towards Him, and to re-coronate Him as our King

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LAST MINUTE TZEDAKA TAZTIL M'MAVES

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Good Shabbos and Shana Tova U'Mesuka to all

LOVE YOU, GUYS!

DERECH