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What can we do to renew our contract with G-d?



All through the year, we are blessed with a presence of divine light that radiates and energises the universe. Clothed in nature, it infuses every being with life and guides everything in matter, every second of each day. From time to time, we see the hand of G-d, the divine providence that leads us, which gives us a reassuring thumbs up that our father in heaven is looking down on us, and caring about each step we take and each decision we make.

But as we light the Yom Tov candles on the first night of Rosh Hashanah, we are told that the divine presence goes into hiding. It withdraws from the world, and from a mystic perspective, we are plunged into darkness, into a comatose state. That’s not to say that the sun won’t rise and the earth won’t rotate on its axis, but rather the extent to which an individual can feel the diminishing of the divine light.

Why, you may ask? Because once a year, we are asked to renew and revitalise our contract with G-d. How do we do that? By showing up with an agenda of renewal, repentance, and recommitment to our divine mission. And how do we draw the divine presence back into the world? By listening to the cry of the shofar. The raw wailing of the shofar mimics the soul’s resonance and yearning to be reconnected to its maker, and this gives us the impetus to make that recommitment.

The question we need to ask ourselves is, what can I honestly do to renew my contract? What recommitment or renewal can I possibly take on that will guarantee another year?

Reflecting on this past year and the state of the world, it’s a very difficult question to answer. The media has surrounded our lives and the places we find ourselves in with negative talk. It feels like the world is on a downward trend, with everything spiralling out of control. Meet anyone on the street, connect on social media, and there’s a bad news story to share. Sit around the Shabbat table, and discuss the bad state of affairs with … fill in the blanks.

I’m not some naïve ostrich with my head in the sand. It isn’t pretty out there.

But here are my thoughts for this new year. This plunge into negativity that we are experiencing mimics the withdrawal of G-d’s presence in the world on the eve of Rosh Hashanah. What’s the purpose of this withdrawal? As said above, it’s a space in time where G-d waits on us to renew our contract with Him for the next year. It’s what they call a job appraisal in the business world.

Let’s take a step back and ask ourselves whether this constant state of negativity is helping us in any way? Are we better people for it? Is our society better off because of it? How motivated are you to function in this environment? Darkness (aka negativity) is simply the absence of light, and as the saying goes, a little light dispels a lot of darkness.

So, this new year, we should flip things around, and do things differently. Let’s not lament the state or lack thereof of our country, our economy, our relationships, our world. Let’s recalculate, reroute, and change direction. My proposition is to choose to look at everything (OK – even something) with a good eye, find a good word to say, show appreciation for something good.

Imagine that a person gets up in the morning, and goes through the motions of his day, in which he experiences ten different circumstances. The chances are nine are good experiences – he woke up feeling good, he had a great breakfast, he squeezed in an hour at gym, he arrived at work safely, he managed his meeting well, he met some interesting business contacts over lunch, he felt accomplished because he signed off on a project, his wife called to say their kid passed an important exam, and then he drove home in the traffic and every traffic light was off due to load shedding.

Guess what the topic of conversation around the dinner table will be? Not the great workout at gym or the completed project. Rather, frustration and irritation about the load shedding. Think about it. Map out your day, and look at all the things that happened – those that went right, the things you should be grateful for, the things that really matter, and then, yes, the things that weren’t great. Human beings are lazy, and chances are we prefer to wallow in the mud, and talk about that which went wrong rather than focus on the positive aspects of our lives.

So, we have a choice: to live in this world, focused on everything that’s wrong, and everything that can go wrong, or we can wake up in the morning and find the good things that G-d gives us. At a job appraisal, what would an employer look for? A sullen, demotivated individual who bemoans his position, bemoans the working conditions and the people around him? Or a motivated, positive individual who sees things differently, and is inspired and willing to make the changes needed to take the company forward?

This Rosh Hashanah, as G-d waits for us, let’s surprise Him, by thanking Him for all the good He has showered on us this previous year. You’re alive, aren’t you? Let’s make a commitment to spreading good news, and being grateful for the good stuff in our lives. Let’s commit to doing acts of goodness and kindness, and let’s look at our sphere of influence and commit to making a positive change there.

Surely then G-d will reciprocate in kindness towards us, and renew our contract with Him, not only for another year of health, happiness, and all the blessings we require, but perhaps this year we will be the recipients of the ultimate gift – a world restored to good with the arrival of the Mashiach.

Shana Tov Umetukah!

  • Rebbetzin Aidel Kazilsky is a radio and television host, and an inspirational speaker who teaches the wisdom of Torah and applies it to contemporary times.

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