Friday, September 23, 2011

Rosh HaShanah/Nitzavim: Do or Die

The following is based in part on concepts from Rav Dessler, Rav Nebenzal and the Stutchiner Rebbe. Feel free to print this out and read it over Shabbos Kodesh – just please not during Tefilos!

As we have been taught, there is a famous concept called ‘HaKriya Me’oreres Es HaZman’ – the concepts that flow from the weekly Parsha are always interfacing with and relating to the events on the Jewish calendar. ‘The Scripture is inspiring the Season.’ This being said, we need to search for how it is that Parshas Nitzavim is preparing us for the awe-inspiring day of Rosh HaShanah which arrives in all of its glory this upcoming week.

We need not look very far. Chazal revealed to us that the powerful content of this week’s Parsha was delivered by Moshe Rabeinu on Rosh HaShanah. Let’s examine some of this relationship.

The Passuk says, “Re’eh; Nasati Lifanecha HaYom Es HaChayim V’Es HaTov V’Es HaMaved V’Es HaRa.” ‘See – I a have placed before you today the life and the good and the death and the evil.’ This famous exhortation culminates with the even more famed punchline: “U’Bachartem BaChayim” – ‘And you will choose life.’ We would typically assume that the following ultimatum has been laid down. On the one hand there is good and life, on the other side lays evil and death: You know what to do.

While this level of understanding is undoubtedly true, perhaps we can suggest a slightly shifted perspective on “Re’eh; Nasati Lifanecha HaYom Es HaChayim V’Es HaTov V’Es HaMaved V’Es HaRa.” And in order to this we need to travel back to Gan Eden.

Hashem commanded Adam HaRishon to eat of all the trees but to refrain from the Eitz HaDa’as Tov V’Ra. Chazal explain that these were Adam HaRishon’s only two Mitzvos: Don’t eat from this tree. Do eat from all of the others. While it is true that each Tree in Garden served a unique role, the Tree that diametrically opposed the Eitz HaDa’as Tov V’Ra was the Eitz HaChayim – The Tree of Life. We know this to be true because the verses describe both of them as being centrally located in the middle of the Garden surrounded by all the others.

Okay, so God said not to eat from the Eitz HaDa’as Tov Ra. But we need to ask ourselves an important question: What’s so bad about knowing the difference between good and evil? Wouldn’t it be great if we always knew the difference between right and wrong? Adaraba! Let’s say just the opposite! It should have been a Mitzvah to eat from the Eitz HaDa’as! The existential clarity that Adam HaRishon should have attained would logically be encouraged – not turned into a history-shattering offense! And yet, it was. So what happened?

These two trees, the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge, each offered a possible shift in Adam HaRishon’s grasp of reality, and more importantly, Adam HaRishon’s relationship to Ratzon Hashem (the Divine Will).

The Eitz HaDa’as would turn right and wrong into theoretical concepts of Good and Evil; concepts which are up to debate. The Eitz HaDa’as Tov V’Ra gives a person the ability to ascertain and determine what is Good and what is Evil. Once this becomes an option, once Ratzon Hashem become a philosophical conversation that remains outside of a person, the possibility for biases to come and cloud judgment becomes a reality. Two people can look at the same situation and one will see good while the other will see evil. This in of itself is the most massive desecration of God’s name that is possible. God is God. His desires should not be up for debate. But once Adam HaRishon has his worldview altered by the Eitz HaDa’as Tov V’Ra this became the reality. ‘A sin can be Ra, it can be bad - but give me a break on this one – it’s convenient.’

If the Eitz HaD’as turns Ratzon Hashem into matters of good and evil, then the Eitz HaChayim would have brought Adam HaRishon to a place where all spirituality would be seen as a matter of life and death. Just as a person cannot hold his breath until he passes out, so to sin would be seen as a non-option. Just as one is incapable of voluntarily stopping his heart from pumping; so too separation from the Divine would have been seen as an impossibility.

Adam HaRishon lowered the bar dramatically. How do we perceive what is right versus what is wrong? How do we relate to what is true versus what is false? This is what was up for grabs when Adam HaRishon was presented with the two Trees. Every bias, every skewed judgment, every single philosophical error comes from this history-shifting moment.

Rectification would logically require bringing the global consciousness to the level of Life and Death as opposed to that of Good and Evil. And this was the goal of receiving the Torah at Sinai. Let’s explain.

Once Adam HaRishon was kicked out of Gan Eden he realized what we just mentioned. He understood that connecting to the Tree of Life would fix his damaged perception that resulted from the Tree of Knowledge. He saw what the verse calls the Derech Eitz HaChayim – the way back to the Tree of Life. But God said, ‘Not so fast.’ And he blocked off that path with Angels armed with fiery swords.

Reb Tzadok HaKohen teaches us that the most natural and intrinsic understanding of any given word is based on its first expression in the Torah. Derech Eitz HaChayim is the first appearance of the word Derech - Path. This teaches us that a true Path is one that returns us to the Eitz HaChayim.

When the Jews were on their way to Har Sinai they were attacked by Amalek. The Passuk describes this as, “Asher Karcha BaDerech” – They came upon you on the Derech – on the way. Now we understand the tremendous depth: the path to Har Sinai was itself the Derech Eitz HaChayim! If the way to the Har Sinai was the Derech, then how do I know that the Torah is Eitz HaChayim? Well, how often do we sing the sweet melody as the Torah returns to the Aron KodeshEitz Chayim Hi LaMachazikim Ba… It is a Tree of Life for those who grab hold of it*. The National Pressence at Sinai was an opportunity to culminate the journey of the Derech Eitz HaChayim. We could have fixed it all, but because of the Golden Calf we didn’t.

But there is no need to despair – we can still get the job done. Let’s figure out how.

Rosh HaShanah is the day of Malchus. On Rosh HaShanah we declare that Hashem Hu HaMelech – He’s the King. What are we really accomplishing with this declaration?

The sin of the Eitz HaDa’as occurred on Rosh HaShanah. Therefore, on this day, more than any other we are coming to fix that problem at its source. We know that Jewish law dictates that when it comes to king flesh and blood, every decree carries with it the death penalty. Every statute is a matter of life and death. When we see the king right before our eyes there is no room for discussion. Not adhering is not an option. Chazal tell us that our fear of the King in Heaven should be as real as our fear of a king who walks the earth. Thus, on Rosh HaShanah, when re-enforce that He is the King, things switch from the Eitz HaDa’as perspective and move to the Eitz HaChayim outlook – it’s no longer up for discussion. Ratzon Hashem is do or die.

Perhaps we can suggest that this is what Moshe Rabeinu is saying to the Jews: “Re’eh; Nasati Lifanecha HaYom Es HaChayim V’Es HaTov V’Es HaMaved V’Es HaRa.” ‘See – I a have placed before you today the life and the good and the death and the evil.’ Until now we saw it as Good and Life verses Evil and Death. But maybe it could be that Moshe is preparing Am Yisrael for the choice that needs to be made on Rosh HaShanah. Do you see the world as Tov and Ra, or do you see it as Chayim and Maves?

Re’eh; Nasati Lifanecha HaYom Es HaChayim V’Es HaTov – The Life and the Good. What does this mean? When a Mitzvah comes my way how do I look at it? Is it something good to do? Is it an optional bonus? Or is it Chayim - the air that I need to live.

V’Es HaMaved V’Es HaRa. And when a spiritual-pitfall present itself, what is my attitude? Is it bad? Well, bad can be overpowered by convenience or lust. But what if it’s deadly poison?

When the King makes the decree then the choice it obvious. It’s either deadly poison or breathing fresh, invigorating air. Rosh HaShanah is about reminding ourselves about the King. That realization pulls us back onto the Derech Eitz HaChayim.

How sweet it is, how enlightened is a life that is totally suffused and immersed with Ratzon Hashem. How lofty is the person who knows that every Mitzvah is Mamesh an elixir. How blessed is he in feeling that his relationship with HaKadosh Baruch Hu is as real and crucial to him as the blood that pumps from his heart.

Gevalt. Rosh HaShanah offers me the opportunity to get on the Derech Eitz HaChayim. When I pound home the message that Ki Anu Avdecha V’Atah Adoneinu I begin to align the universe. When I sing with my whole heart and soul Ki Anu Amecha V’Atah Malkeinu – you’re the King. Sometimes I forget, but not now. Now I see as clearly as the sun shines bright that Hashem Hu HaMelech. And with that dazzlingly vivid perception I go back into Gan Eden and I start to make things right again.

HaKadosh Baruch Hu should give us a Bracha to access the immense energies and opportunities that are presenting themselves in this exalted moment in time. If we can then there is no doubt that we will live lives of Simcha and Shleimus – lives where we are truly living – moving closer to HaKadosh Baruch Hu and ultimately the Geulah Sheleimah!

For more on how Har Sinai was supposed to shift our perspective to the way we are understanding the Eitz HaChayim, see the content that we learned for Parshas Shoftim of this year.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Elul/Ki Seitzei: Behind Enemy Lines

The following concepts have been adapted from the Sfas Emes and Rav Moshe Wolfson. Feel free to print this out and read it over Shabbos, just please not during Tefilos!

We’ve been taught through the generations that there is an intrinsic connection between the Torah readings (Parshios) and the Holidays/goings on of the calendar (Moadim). This relationship is called ‘HaKriya Meoreres Es HaZman’ - The Scripture is enlivening the Season. The themes relevant to current events are always emerging from the Parshios that parallel them.

As we find ourselves in the month of Elul, moving full speed towards Rosh HaShana, we read this week’s Parsha of Ki Seitzei. Our job at this point is twofold: First, we need to show some of the beauty and depth that emerges from the connection between Elul and Ki Seitzei and once that dynamic has been detailed we need to bring it home and transform the concepts into every-day realizations. Let’s explore.

Chazal revealed that the twelve months of the year parallel the Twelve Tribes of Israel – the Shvatim. The Shvatim were arranged into a camping formation during their wandering in the wilderness which later served as the reference point for how they matched up with the months. Based on this alignment, the Shevet that corresponds to this month is the Tribe of Gad. In order to get greater clarity on Elul, we need to delve into the essence of Gad.

At the end of his life, when Yaakov Avinu was blessing the Shvatim, he was also giving them definitions. He was stating their historical essence. To Gad he said, Gad Gadud YigudenuGad shall be a raiding troop. Yaakov Avinu was foretelling Gad’s role as a provider of fierce warriors. This further manifests itself on Gad’s tribal banner which displays an army unit. At the very end of the Torah, where Moshe Rabbeinu blesses the tribes, Gad is once again described with savage imagery, “He is like a lion, he rips off the heads and arms of his prey.” In short: don’t mess with Gad, when he’s on the scene it’s time for war. Moreover, on the Choshen, the priestly, gem-studded breastplate, a stone represented each tribe. Based on the Kabalistic tradition, each gem serves as a conductor and a channel of a specific energy.  Gad’s gem was the Achlama (commonly known as the amethyst) which served as a vessel for courage and strength – fitting for their skill in warfare.

But then how is Elul like going to war?

On the most basic level, we are initiating our Milchemes HaYetzer (our battle against the evil-inclination) with newfound intensity. As we march towards Rosh HaShana and Yom Kipur, the days where we come face to face with our deeds of this year, we move forward with inspiration to tackle those destructive forces that seek to hold us back and keep us down. In Elul we storm the enemy known as the Yetzer Hara. And for that we need to channel the energies of Shevet Gad.

In the Torah, Rosh HaShana is called Yom Tru’a – the Day of (Shofar) Blowing. We prepare ourselves for this by blowing the Shofar everyday since the beginning of the month. This spurns the comment of the Zohar that Rosh HaShana and the days preceding it are days of war. How are the days connected to Yom Tru’a days of war? Because the Torah tells us that when war comes, “VaHaRei’oschem” – ‘And you will sound off the horns.’ VaHaRei’oschem comes from the word Tru’a, as in Yom Tru’a, Rosh HaShana. When we go to war we take out the blow-horn. Elul. Tru’a. Shevet Gad. We are going to war.

And this manifests right in the beginning of the Parsha. HaKadosh Baruch Hu tells the Jews not to fear in battle for behold, Hashem is going with you into war, L’HaTzilcha, U’Laseis Oivecha MiPanecha – To save you and to take away your enemies from before you. The first letters of each of the four words L’HaTzilcha, U’Laseis Oivecha L’fanecha (Lamed, Vav, Alef and Lamed) together form the acronym for the word Elul.

So let’s explain what the war of Elul has to do with the war of Ki Seitzei.

When discussing war, the Torah details the laws of the Eishes Yefas Toar (literally: the woman of beautiful form). The Torah explains that when in battle, if a warrior saw a beautiful woman, under the correct circumstances he could take her as a wife.

To our shallow minds this sound quite licentious. In the intensity of violence and rage, the barbaric Jewish foot soldier snatches up a refugee in a moment of lust.

This cannot possibly be. We are talking about the Jews who had Moshe Rabbeinu as their leader. Jews in the time of conquering the Land of Israel, in the time of David and the Beis HaMikdash. The Torah goes out of its way to tell us the tremendous piety of the soldiers fighting on behalf of the Jews. The fuel that pushed these men was completely divine. We don’t have the proper perspective to categorize them. So it can’t be that we are dealing with petty covetousness.

Says the Ohr HaChayim, the Eishes Yefas Toar wasn’t necessarily beautiful in physical form; rather she was beautiful in spirit. The holy Jewish soldier, pumped up on divine energy was sensitive enough to be able to see that this person possessed a unique soul not at all connected to the nation that he was currently warring against. This person doesn’t belong with them, this person belongs with us, it’s just that right now she’s trapped and it’s our job to take her back. The whole concept of Eishes Yefas Toar is so much deeper than we thought. This is not about releasing pent up desires, rather it’s about rescuing captured souls.

This happens to us over the course of the year. I departed from Rosh HaShana last year inspired. I had great expectations for the upcoming months. But slowly my hopes may have become disappointments. Maybe disappointments turned into failures. The little things piled up and I can barely recognize myself. When I look in the mirror the face is the same, but the person that it represents isn’t. My soul has become trapped in a life that it doesn’t really belong to. What am I going to do?

Hashem says that if we make ourselves open to the relationship, He’ll bring us back. How do we do this? First we notice that we may not be holding in the place that we need to be and then we yearn to make it right. We spend just a little but of time meditating on how great it would be if we could be maximally close to HaKadosh Baruch Hu. We say a little bit of Slichos. We invoke the thirteen Attributes of Mercy, the Yud Gimel Midos Shel Rachamim. We come to the realization that He wants us to come to Him even more than we do. We open ourselves up to the relationship and He makes it happen.

This is Elul. The word Elul serves an acrostic for ‘Ani L’Dodi V’Dodi Li’ – ‘I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me.’ This means that inasmuch as I become dedicated to my Beloved (Hashem), in as much as I make myself a receptacle for him, he’ll come and pull me out.

Like we just mentioned. Soon, when we start saying Slichos (If you are Sefardi then you’ve probably already started) you’ll notice that all the paragraphs and poems all come back to the bottom line where we call out the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy – the Yud Gimel Midos Shel Rachamim. The Kabalistic tradition explains that these Divine Traits emanate from a facet of reality that cannot be sullied with transgression. We declare the Yud Gimel Midos Shel Rachamim as expression of our cognizance that if Hashem so chooses, He can overpower any impurity that has come between Him and us. When we invoke that, when we declare that realization, a wave of purity fills the world that breaks down those barriers.

It is by making ourselves aware of the entrance of the Yud Gimel Midos Shel Rachamim’s healing energy that we can be pulled back into the side of holiness. And for this reason, the Gematria, the numerical value of the words Yud Gimel Midos Shel Rachamim (1091) parallels that of Yefas Toar (also 1091). The two concepts are one in the same. For just as the holy Jewish warrior sees a soul that need to be taken back, so too, in the month Elul, the month of Gad, Hashem comes and pulls us back as well.

This is not a call to action. The point of reading this essay is not that I’ll walk away and force myself to change all my habits. This essay is a request to tap into an awareness. When I know and remind myself that God wants me then it will instinctively awaken every aspect of my life. Connecting to my inborn yearning to be attached to something Bigger than myself is all the fuel necessary. When I sit and prepare before Davening for a minute then the whole Tefilah is changed. The deeper that I engrain the understanding that I want Him and that He wants me the more vitality I become enlivened by. I’ve Mamesh never felt like this before…

HaKadosh Baruch Hu should bless us to have open minds and hearts. He should awaken our senses to be in touch with the rhythm of His universe so that we won’t miss out on an opportunity like this. When we pull ourselves to a greater level of perception, when tap into our inborn desire for holiness and the knowledge that He’s longing for us, the entire of our life will change. If we can do this we will surely live lives of Simcha and Shleimus moving closer to the Creator and ultimately the Geulah Sheleimah!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Shoftim/Elul - Staying Calm when Life isn't

The following has been adapted from the Sefer Ohr G’Deliyahu and Rav Kook in Ein Aya. Feel free to print this out and read it over Shabbos Kodesh just please not during Tefilos!

As we have been taught, there is a famous concept called ‘HaKriya Me’oreres Es HaZman’ – the concepts that flow from the weekly Parsha are always interfacing with and relating to the events on the Jewish calendar. ‘The Scripture is inspiring the Season.’ As Parshas Shoftim is the first Torah Portion read after Rosh Chodesh Elul (the first day of the month) we must keep our eyes open for the theme that connects them.

The beginning of this week’s Parsha deals with the concepts of Jewish law-enforcement. Shoftim V’Shotrim Titen L’cha B’chol She’arecha – Place for yourselves Judges and officers at all of your gates.

We know that the Torah is Divine and therefore it is exact. Each letter is filled with godliness, and because of this each one needs to be analyzed with intense scrutiny. There is no fluff, no need for repeats or padding. If this is true then what does the Torah HaKedosha specifying in its split of Shoftim and Shotrim – Judges and Officers? What differing roles do they play?

Rashi on the verse gives us the answer. Shoftim, the Judges, are there to make decisions. They discover the truth in Halachically-sticky situations. Hopefully those involved in the cases will adhere to their rulings. It’s when the constituents don’t listen that the need for Shotrim, Officers, arises. These Officers are really enforcers. When a Jew chooses not to listen to the Torah and its rules the Shotrim step in to forcibly persuade them back into doing the right thing.

That’s very nice. But the Torah was given to be relevant and applicable in every person in every culture in every generation. So what do I learn about my life when I learn about ancient law-enforcement?

The Sh’lah HaKadosh explains that the concepts in this verse could not be more relevant. Shoftim V’Shotrim Titen L’cha B’chol She’arecha – Judges and Enforcers shall you place in all of your gates. These gates are the human senses. How do I know this to be true? Well, what is a gate of a city? The city gates are the place where products, culture, information and everything else comes in and out of the city. The gate of the city is the place where the city interacts with the rest of the world. Based on this my eyes are gates. My nose, ears, mouth skin – they are all gates. Information comes in and out through there. Taste, sight, sound and the like are all tantamount to that which passes through the entry to a city.

Shoftim V’Shotrim Titen L’cha B’chol She’arecha is telling us that just as city gates need Judges and Officers, so too the ‘gates’ of the human experience, my relationship to the world around me need Judges and Officers just the same.

In my personal life, my intellectual faculties serve as my Judges. I use logic and reasoning to determine right from wrong; what to do and what to refrain from. Under ideal circumstances I can succeed in Avodas Hashem simply by making and intellectual decision to do so.

But sometimes the situations I find myself in deprive me of my normative logical properties. Sometimes I’m simply not ‘feeling it’. I’m burnt out. I’m having a bad day. My brain is already turned off. How am I supposed to accomplish in Avodas Hashem now? In these situations, how do I overcome the tests that HaKadosh Baruch Hu throws my way? The answer is Shotrim - Officers. We force ourselves. Hashem has commanded us not only to serve him with logic, but also to have a back up, a storehouse of energy that we can use to pull through when we are simply overwhelmed by exterior or internal circumstances.

But from where do the Jewish People derive this ‘auto-pilot’-like strength? If we can pinpoint the moment where Hashem gave us that inner wellspring of inspiration then when an immensely difficult situation attempts to overpower us we can draw vigor from there and emerge victorious even in the most difficult situations.

At Ma’amad Har Sinai, the Jews accepted the Torah with full hearts and open arms. They lovingly declared Na’aseh V’Nishma – We will do and we will listen! We are totally yours! We want this and we want You.

But Chazal reveal to us that the story didn’t end there. Right after the dramatic moments of Na’aseh V’Nishma, God lifted Mount Sinai off of the ground, held it over the heads – Har K’Gigis - of the Jewish people and laid down an ultimatum: ‘If you accept the Torah, great. If not, I’ll bury you right here.’ What’s going on here?

Rav Dessler taught us that free will doesn’t always extend to every option that I am offered. I only have free will when the options are reasonably close to one another. For example: ‘Chocolate or Vanilla’ is a choice. ‘Chocolate or Cyanide’ is not. If a father were to tell his son ‘Go to school or I’ll break your nose!’ it wouldn’t be much of a choice. In fact, by giving him these two options the son’s free will has actually been taken away! He’s being forced to go to school. Based on this, when HaKadosh Baruch Hu said ‘If you accept the Torah, great. If not, I’ll bury you right here’ He wasn’t giving us a choice, He was really removing our ability to choose. But why?

The answer begins with an important spiritual understanding of the human psyche. The fact that I am alive expresses itself in the universe on two levels: There is the exterior stage of my personality that is revealed by the choices that I make. My reactions, the clothing that I wear, my mannerisms are all reflections of my choices. This is me as I manifest in Choice. But then there is a level that is yet deeper: The very fact that I am alive. The fact that I exist takes on an expression of its own. I take up a space in the universe. My soul is unique. This is me as I manifest as a living being.

The fact that we accepted the Torah on the level of Na’aseh V’Nishma is very good. We made a choice. We decided that we wanted to be on the side of Avodas Hashem. While that’s nice, it’s still only the exterior level of my being. When God threatens my life over the Torah’s acceptance I receive the Torah not on the level of choice but rather on the level of being. The very fact that I exist was put on the line in the name of Kabalas HaTorah. And the fact that I accepted it under such circumstances means that it is no longer just tied to how I choose to live, rather it is a part of my life intrinsically.

This is Shoftim and Shotrim. The Shofeit – the Judge – he makes decisions and if all goes well he is listened to. This is the level of Na’aseh V’Nishma. It’s the beautiful feeling of lovingly serving God because I want to. But there is the even deeper level of the Shoteir – the Enforcer. This is the level of Har K’Gigis. The Torah is not just something that I choose to incorporate into my life – it is my life itself. It as intrinsic to my being as the fact that I am alive. And just like I can’t force myself to stop breathing, so too with the proper awareness I’ll always manage to pull myself back to the Torah.

We know that through the sin of the Golden Calf we lost that which we accomplished when we stood at Sinai the first time. But Chazal explain that it is on Rosh Chodesh Elul that Moshe Rabeinu ascended Mount Sinai for the second time to receive the second set of Tablets. The depth of this is that Rosh Chodesh Elul marks the beginning of our journey back to that original level.

As we begin the month of Elul, we say the chapter of Tehilim entitled L’David Hashem Ori V’YishiDavid HaMelech declares that God is his Light and Salvation. In this chapter is the famous verse: Shivti B’Veis Hashem Kol Yimei Chayai, LaChazos B’Noam Hashem U’L’Vaker B’Heichalo! – Let me sit in the House of Hashem all the days of my life, to perceive the Sweetness of Hashem and visit in His Chambers!

What is David HaMelech saying here? Let me sit in Hashem’s house all the days of my life. He wants to be there all the time. But then he says, ‘To perceive the Sweetness of Hashem and visit in His Chambers.’ Wait – does he want the equilibrium and continuity of being there all the time or does he want the exhilarating charm of the occasional visit? He seems to be implying both!

The answer is both. Of course David HaMelech wants to feel the rush that comes with embracing God. He years to have that feeling all the time. But he knows that he won’t. And even so he wants to cleave to God with all of his might even when it’s not so easy. Shivti B’Veis Hashem Kol Yimei Chayai – Let me be there no matter what. Let me realize that the my relationship to you is as constant as my heartbeat. Bless me with the level of Shoteir. LaChazos B’Noam Hashem U’L’Vaker B’eihalo – but on that platform indulge me in loving every second of it. Let it sweet. Let is be like Na’aseh V’Nishma. I don’t just want it to be right, I want it to feel right as well.

There are times when Avodas Hashem feels amazing. There are times where I truly love it. But there are times where I need to remember that I need to push through and carry on because this is who I am. My relationship with Hashem is more ‘Me’ then my choices of clothing or friends. It’s more true to who I am then the music I listen to or the books that I read. In the same way that blood pumps through my veins and air flows from my lungs I am connected to Hashem. The more we remember that the easier it becomes to live by.

As Parshas Shoftim and Chodesh Elul meet, may HaKadosh Baruch Hu bless us with both levels needed to fully relate to Him. He should infuse us with the inner strength to always pull through and he should bless us with the delight of enjoying every moment of Avodas Hashem. If we can bring ourselves to live with this consciousness there is no doubt that we live live lives full of Simcha and Shleimus moving closer to the Creator and ultimately the Geulah Sheleimah!