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Torah Attitude: Parashas Haazinu-Succos-Shemini Atzeres-Simchas Torah: How to maintain the inspiration
Just yesterday, most Jews the world over stopped their daily routines and went to a synagogue to participate in the Yom Kippur service. After the wedding, the visitor noticed that many of the guests were rushing to return the outfits and jewellery they had rented or borrowed for this special occasion. Only after Yom Kippur, when people return to their regular routines and to "business as usual" can we distinguish the true penitent from the others. What can we do to maintain the inspiration, so that it will have a real impact now after Yom Kippur? If one takes action and does something to internalize the experience it will have a lasting effect. Every time Israel has had to fight their enemies we have clearly seen the Hand of G'd. The opportunity must be taken immediately, or it will be lost forever. The day after Yom Kippur one should immediately start to build the Sukkah. If we manage to internalize the Ramban's lesson and let the joy of our observance of the mitzvot of Succos and Simchas Torah continue after the holidays, then we can strengthen and beautify our observance throughout the year.
Just yesterday, most Jews the world over stopped their daily routines and went to a synagogue to participate in the Yom Kippur service. Many were deeply emerged in prayer and serious thoughts on this awesome day. A passer-by observing an assembly for a few moments would think that all participants were righteous, repentant people totally committed to pursue a new year of mitzvah observance. However, the Dubno Maggid uses the following parable to point out that looks can be deceiving.
Everyone looked the same
An extremely affluent person in a certain town was making an extravagant wedding feast to celebrate the marriage of his daughter. The whole town was invited. All the guests were dressed in beautiful clothing and adorned with the finest jewellery. A visitor from out of town attending the wedding was very impressed. Based on their attire it seemed that all the people of this town were very wealthy. However, as the visitor stayed for a few days after the wedding, he noticed that many of the guests were rushing to return the outfits and jewellery they had rented or borrowed for this special occasion. At the celebration, the visitor could not tell who was affluent and who was not. Everyone looked the same. It was only during the following days that the truth emerged.
"Borrowed" or "rented" attitudes
Thus, says the Dubno Maggid, only after Yom Kippur, when people return to their regular routines and to "business as usual" can we distinguish the true penitent from the others. Already during the evening prayer after Neilah, at the end of the Yom Kippur service, one can notice the difference. A week or two after Yom Kippur it can be difficult to believe that these are the same people one saw on that most holy of all days. Many seem to have returned their conduct and attitudes that they "borrowed" or "rented" just for the day of Yom Kippur.
How maintain inspiration?
The truth is that many people were inspired yesterday during the Yom Kippur service and sincerely wanted to improve their commitment and observance. But as soon as Yom Kippur is over, many of us fall back into our old habits and regular routines. The question is, what can we do to maintain the inspiration, so that it will have a real impact now after Yom Kippur?
Transform into psyche
The Ramban (Emunah U'Bitachon Chapt. 19) teaches an extremely important lesson about human psychology and behaviour. Someone who experiences a sensational miracle, or for another reason, is impacted spiritually, is likely to be elevated to a great level of awe or love for G'd. However, if one does not immediately draw practical applications from the experience the effect of the experience is quickly lost. Only if one takes immediate action and does something to internalize the experience, it will have a lasting effect.
Hand of G'd
For example, every time Israel had to go to war we clearly saw the Hand of G'd. During the 6-Day War, many Israeli soldiers came back from the front lines with miraculous stories how they were saved from certain death. The whole world was in awe at the rescue in Entebbe, and everyone marveled when the missiles from the Gulf War exploded with almost no direct casualties.
Use opportunity immediately
However, we must ask ourselves, how many of us utilized these opportunities and captured these miracles to help us grow in our relationships with G'd? The Ramban explains that when a person realizes that he sees the Hand of G'd, he should capitalize and utilize it as a vehicle for personal growth. But the opportunity must be taken immediately, or it will be lost forever. But, says the Rambam, if we do use the experience it will make us worthy to receive G'd's blessings. G'd's blessings are always available, but they need a receptacle to receive them. When we utilize our experiences and transform inspiration into action, we develop such a receptacle for the Divine blessings.
The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 624:5 and 625:1) writes that the day after Yom Kippur one should immediately start to build the Sukkah, preferably already in the night. The deeper significance of this may be in order that we capitalize on the inspiration we had during Yom Kippur and immediately utilize it for a practical mitzvah observance. G'd provides us with four days between Yom Kippur and Succos where we are busy building and beautifying our Sukkot as well as buying the four species that we need on Succos. For the next seven days we have the opportunity to observe these mitzvot. After seven days of rejoicing with the mitzvoth of Sukkah and the four species we enter the Festival of Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah where we rejoice with the Torah and all its 613 commandments.
Internalize Ramban's lesson
Let us try to internalize the Ramban's lesson and let the joy of our observance of the mitzvot of Succos and Simchas Torah continue after the holidays, and infuse our observance of the daily mitzvot with similar joy. In this way, we utilize the inspiration of Yom Kippur and the joy of Succos and Simchas Torah to strengthen and beautify our observance throughout the year.
Wishing you and all the Jewish people a happy year filled with Divine protection and blessings for all our needs. A gemar vechatima Tova.
These words were based on notes of Rabbi Avraham Kahn, the Rosh Yeshiva and Founder of Yeshivas Keser Torah in Toronto.
Shalom. Michael Deverett
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