Rosh Hashanah 5778 Let us remember to stop and take stock

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In most years the parshiyot of Nitzavim and Vayelech are read together and in most years, this double portion falls out just before Rosh Hashanah.

Simply put, the powerful statement of “You shall choose life” from Parshat Nitzavim, is very apt for the approaching Days of Judgement, but I think there are more subtle and profound messages in the very names of the two parshiyot.

A simple translation reveals that “Nitzavim” means: “standing” and “Vayelech” means: “he went”. The Torah is perhaps hinting to the fact that in order to be successful in our Avodas Hashem, our spiritual growth, we need both components of “going” and not so obviously, “standing still”.

On our climb up the levels of spirituality year by year, we have a tendency to speed ahead. However, on so many occasions I have seen eager Ba’alei Teshuvos crash and burn. An equally if not more important step in growth, is the ability to stop and take stock (and maybe even wait to let our family catch up).

In the prayer of Hashkiveinu that we say at every evening service, we ask Hashem to protect us from the Satan that is before us and the Satan in front of us.

We have all met Satan in front of us. It’s the desires before our eyes that blind us and side-track us. But there is a Satan behind us, pushing us forward and not letting us stop to take stock of our progress.

In trying to understand the machinations of the war with our personal Satan/Yetzer Hora, Rav Eliyahu Dessler, the great mashgiach and spiritual guide, explains with the following analogy:

When Israel and Lebanon are at war, for example, the war is not the whole of Israel against the whole of Lebanon. The war takes place on a thin frontline somewhere near the borders of the two countries. As one nation becomes victorious, they move forward just a little, while the defeated nation moves back just a little.

When we take on our Yetzer Hora this year, with our positive and exciting new resolutions, let us remember that we can’t jump ahead of ourselves into uncharted territory, until we have successfully defeated the ground already covered. And let us also remember to stop and take stock of our progress, leaving no-one behind.


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