THE ALARM IS FOR YOU
Harav Y. Reuven Rubin Shlita
This time it was the dishwasher, last time the freezer. I am getting on with my mundane life and suddenly a high pitched beep pierces through the quiet and jangles my ever calm demeanour. ‘What now’ I ask myself, which one of the home appliances that have taken up residence in my home, have decided it is lonely and craves my attention? I schlep myself into the kitchen and then it dawns on me, the dishwasher is telling me it has finished its heroic task of washing the dishes, Mazel Tov, I had forgotten that I had set it in motion some time ago.
Technology is so full of handy surprises, and these little reminders are embedded into so many of our daily tools that we often forget what they are reminding us of, and do so at our peril. As mentioned earlier, the last time my quiet was shattered in such a way was when our freezer awoke with its own brand of shriek. His reminder was a bit more ardent and it took me time to figure out what it wanted from me. Then I saw a red light flashing and dredged up from my murky memory that this must be the dreaded alarm signal, warning me that the freezer was too warm, (an oxymoron if I ever heard one) so I needed to raise the temperature, which meant I needed to call my son in law bless him, who knows about this stuff. Yes, life now comes with bells and whistles, all meant to remind us to stay on the straight and narrow.
Elul is here, the shofar has been sounded for some time already, this week we start reciting Slichos, talk about signals, one can’t find any as strong and vital as these.
This year is going to be a Rosh Hashonah – Yom Kippur like no other ever experienced. I feel strongly that this new world of mindfulness has to be seen as the Eibishter’s signal that we must refocus our hearts at this most sensitive time.
For all too many, the calendar that is the life blood of the Yiddisher neshoma has become too familiar. We glide through our days with nary a thought to what our spiritual needs truly are. We daven, we learn, we do all this and so much more, yet we wade through life often uninspired. The Divine signals for our service to Hashem become muted and cease to ignite our “spark” of kedusha.
Well, this year everything has changed!
This year we have to be more aware of everything we do. Where we daven, what we daven, when we daven, these and so many more questions are now on our communal agenda. The Eibishter has sent the entire world a slew of alarm signals, all of which we, His children, must see for what they are. These Yomim Tovim must be more invigorated and focused. We have all shared in so much, we dare not let it all be forgotten or discharged as just some strange quirk. To have gone through so much and not absorbed any lessons is to ignore the urgency of Hashem’s call.
Incidents that we experience in our lives affect every one of us differently. We each have a unique role to play in bringing the total tikun into this world, therefore whatever we experience speaks to the particularity of our own soul. My pain, my joy comes forth from the wellspring that is my own neshoma, and so it is with every single person.
However, certain events that impact on the entirety of Klall Yisroel are sent by Hashem so that we all can come together and seek change which can impact not only on the Klall but inevitably on every individual. These past months have visited challenges on us all, and it is now up to all of us to grasp ahold of this Rosh Hashonah and plead as one for a Yeshuah. All our personal wounds will find salvation when Klall Yisroel turns to the Eibishter as One nation.
This is the last Shabbos of the year, and as such it holds a special kedusha.
The Yismach Yisroel of Alexander Ztl tells us that just like a stick, even if one grabs it by one end and picks it up, the entire length of the stick comes with it. So too one can fix the entire year if he keeps this last shabbos in its spiritual entirety.
These days are called ‘Yemei Slichos,’ The Days of Slichos. The Rebbe Rav Avrom Moshe of Pshischa Ztl explains that it is not simply because we recite Slichos that this period is named for them, rather, these ‘days’ in their entirety are meant for us make Slicha our heartfelt reality. The Pnei Menachem of Ger Ztl used to remind us, ‘Alle Yidden Zenen Heilig’, ‘all Yidden are Holy!’ We have been stretched to our limits, yet, here we are, standing before the Gates of Rachamim, with our holiness intact. Open your hearts, and let your tefillos flow forth with a new and pristine clarity.