Seize the Moment: Utilizing Rosh Hashana To Its Fullest

By Rabbi Dov Silver, Founder & Executive Vice President, Madraigos


As we wind down the current year and think ahead to the upcoming year, who among us doesn’t have deep feelings of hope and awe. We look back at the past year wondering what we could have done better and what we would like to do better in the coming year. 

On the threshold of Rosh Hashana, we proclaim that H-shem sits on his thrown and judges us.  Who will live and who will die. Who by water and who by fire. Who will succeed and who will fail. When we internalize these ideas, our preparation for Rosh Hashana takes on new meaning. We pray for ourselves, our spouses, our children, our parents, our siblings, and our friends. We pray that we should be taken care of physically and financially, and that all our needs and desires will be granted.

But, there is a whole other element of judgment that actually takes priority on Rosh Hashana.  In Michtav M’ Eliyahu, Rabbi Eliyahu E. Dessler explains that the judgment of Rosh Hashana relates to the spiritual needs of a person.  Physical requirements are taken into consideration only insofar as they contribute to the person’s spiritual progress. Therefore, the most important thing for us to consider is what will my relationship will be like with Hakadosh Baruch Hu this year. How closely connected will I feel and what changes will I do to make the relationship more meaningful and positive.  On a physical level, it is hard for us to know what to pray for because we really don’t know what our needs will be tomorrow. There might be things that come up throughout the year that will require us to pray for a whole different package. But on a spiritual level, the terms remain constant. Every bit of energy we exert in our spiritual relationship with H-shem never loses traction. It is constant.  How reassuring it is that we have the opportunity on Rosh Hashana to elevate ourselves in our relationship with Hakadosh         Baruch Hu.

The fact is all of our relationships are precious.  We, therefore, put a great deal of energy into nurturing them.  In reality, one of the main reasons that our relationships are difficult to navigate is because they are so very important to us.  However, we need to prioritize. We must exert much effort in those relationships that we deem crucial. If we don’t put in the necessary effort, these special relationships are destined to fail and dissipate.

Our upcoming Madraigos Rosh Hashana Retreat will focus on the topic of ‘Seize The Moment- If Not Now, When?’. Working collectively as a group, we explore and examine Tefila, Teshuva, Tzedakah.  As we know, Tefila is beseeching H-Shem and Teshuva is repenting our sins and at the same time, committing to act better in the future.

Let us examine the concept of Tzedaka more closely.  First, what does Tzedakah have to do with our relationship with our Creator? It appears that Tzedakah is only beneficial to our relationship with those who are in need. But, if we understand that giving Tzedakah is providing for HaShem’s children, we can only imagine how much joy this gives Him when we give Tzedakah to each other.  In addition, it makes us better people overall which develops an inner bond with HaShem and His Torah

As we celebrate Rosh Hashana together with close to 500 people, we have many opportunities to help other each according to our unique talents and abilities.  It is our hope that what we focus on during our Rosh Hashana program will guide us throughout the new year, helping us to foster positive relationships in our lives.

As we strive to incorporate the lofty messages of Rosh Hashana and the value of our relationships, I am reminded of a moving story in Touched By A Story, by Rabbi Yechiel Spiro which elucidates an essential point most worthy of sharing.  The story takes place in the concentration camps. It was 1945 and the Jews were being liberated.  An American officer, who was in one of the camps, witnessed an amazing scene.  The children who were extremely frail and weak, literally hanging on to their lives, lined up to receive a portion of soup. One little girl wasn’t interested in the soup at all.  She was quietly sitting on the side and didn’t join the line. The officer was amazed at how it was possible that she didn’t want the hot, nutritious food in her starving condition. But, it became quite clear. Instead of the soup, she simply wanted a hug. The officer hugged the young girl for a long time as they cried together.  Before long, uninterested in the food as well, the other children lined up, one by one, in front of the officer and waited for a hug.  Like the little girl, we are all in desperate need of unconditional love and acceptance.  We can see that more important than basic physical sustenance, we crave real, emotional connections.  Relationships of all kinds have the potential to help us attain this closeness in our lives. 

May the coming year bring. And may Hakadosh Baruch Hu shine down on all of us. May you be blessed with simcha and bracha tamid and may this year bring the ultimate geula.

Madraigos, a 501c-3 not-for-profit organization, offers a wide array of innovative services and programs geared towards helping teens and young adults overcome life's everyday challenges one step at a time  Our goal is to provide all of our members with the necessary tools and skills to empower them to live a healthy lifestyle and become the leaders of tomorrow.


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