Your Place in History
"Oh nations, sing the praises of His people . . ." (Devarim 32:43). The verse states that the nations of the world will praise the Jewish people. Why will they praise us? Which deeds will they recognize as praiseworthy? Rashi explains that they will see how Hashem has tested His nation will many trials and tribulations. Through all of this, we have not abandoned Him. Therefore the nations will realize and pay tribute to the Jewish people.
Let us see how we react to tests. It is quite commendable when someone passes the entrance exam to be admitted to a school. Passing the final exams after the first year of study is more of an accomplishment. Passing grades in graduation exams, advanced degrees, semicha (Rabbinical ordination) are all accomplishments that reflect years and years of hard work and self sacrifice. Take a look at Jewish history. Read and learn the Tanach (Torah, Prophets, and Writings). Study the events of the Second Temple Period, Middle Ages, Crusades, Renaissance, leading up to the present day. You will see that the Jewish people have undergone many, many tests, much more difficult than school exams. Each new phase of our history has had its own individual challenges. Yet, we have risen to them all.
Throughout 3500 years of nationhood, we have neither abandoned Hashem nor His Torah. Knowing this strengthens our emunah (faith) in Hashem.
The challenges that face us are not new. We are not the first generation to face them. Just as our ancestors successfully met those challenges, so will we.
Children . . .
As you study history, you will see the glory of the Jewish people and our loyalty to Hashem. You are part of a people whose greatness has shone over 3500 years. We have our own tests in our days. We know where we stand and we know what we have to do. We are part of the Jewish people. We have our place in history.
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Did you see the signs? Did you hear the news? He is here. He is really here. That great wise man who is so understanding, so influential, and so helpful to so many people. He is here to help us. Are you going to see him? I don't know. I'm so busy. He is so busy. Can he really help me anyway? It is too difficult for me to change.
Old habits are hard to break. But he will help you. That is what he is here for. He is an expert at helping people break bad habits. You just have to make the initial effort and he will do the rest. I don't know. Maybe next week. Next week? Next week is too late. He will only be here a few more days. Then he will leave. If you don't take advantage of the opportunity now, it will be gone.
Children . . .
I am sure that you recognize the parable. The great wise man is Hashem. He is here, close to us during these 30 days of the month of Elul, and the first ten days of the new year, until Yom Kippur. During this time, He makes Himself available to help us do tshuva (correct our mistakes). We only have a few more days left. The Days of Tshuva end with Yom Kippur. Do not miss this golden opportunity to become close to Hashem.
Every Minute is Precious
It was Yom Kippur night. Shortly before the Beis HaMedrash was full of people crying out in prayer to Hashem. Now it stood empty except for one solitary individual who sat alone, softly crying. "Yisroel Meir, Yisroel Meir, what will be with you?" the Chofetz Chaim cried to himself. Why was he crying? He was giving Hashem an accounting of his deeds of the past year. He found that he could not account for ten minutes of his time. "How did you waste those ten minutes?
Hashem bestowed His kindness on you all year, giving you health, food, and a fine healthy family. He only asks you to give an accounting of your deeds. Yet you cannot account for those ten minutes." The Chofetz Chaim sobbed.
Can we relate to this? Ten minutes in the whole year. Do we know what we did for ten hours, ten days, or even ten weeks of the year?
The time runs. We may think that the most amazing part of this story is that the Chofetz Chaim zt"l could not account for ten minutes of his time. That is certainly incredible. But just think about the implications of that. The rest of the year he could account for. Reb Yisroel Meir knew what he did every minute of every day of the year. Do you see how he valued time? Time was a priceless commodity to him. He treasured it more than gold, silver, and precious stones. Therefore, he shed tears over the ten minutes that he could not account for. Oh, what he could have accomplished with that time.
Children . . .
Only three more days until Yom Kippur. As we said before, time is running short. Try to squeeze in every mitzvah that you can. Learning, chessed (acts of kindness), honoring Abba and Imma, prayer, tsedaka (charity) will all bring us close to Hashem. Use your time wisely, as the Chofetz Chaim zt"l did. We should all merit to be sealed in the Book of Life for a good year.
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