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Elul is here, the month of teshuvah, of repentance.
I had the privilege recently of visiting the gadol Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch in Yerushalayim. He said the following: “What is in the newspapers is of no importance, and what is of importance is not in the newspapers. We have nothing to fear from the president of Iran; God watches over His children. The only matter of importance, the only thing that affects us, is the relationship between the Ribbono Shel Olam and the children of Israel.”
I believe every thinking person understands Moshiach ben Dovid cannot be far away. Every thinking person also knows the Jews are surrounded today on every side by problems. Even seventy years ago, when the Nazi dictator, may his name be ground to dust, was about to launch his war against the world, there were still places where a Jew could run. It wasn’t easy, but the places existed where a Jew was not in danger.
Today, there is no such place. Even our Homeland, which was supposed to be the ultimate safety net for the Children of Israel, is under threat of attack – more so, in fact, than any other place in the world. In general, every Jewish neighborhood is surrounded by enemies, and the world is becoming more dangerous and unstable with each passing moment.
Several weeks ago, there was a terrible story in the news about religious Jews who were arrested. Pictures were featured prominently in the media.
I know a twelve-year-old boy in Lakewood, New Jersey, who is a tzaddik. I do not use the term lightly. It just amazes me how, in this polluted world, there can be such holy children. This boy taught me an incredible thing. We were discussing the quality of dimyon, imagination. He told me his rebbe had taught him that one reason God instilled the quality of imagination in mankind is so that we should be able to use it to find a way to “dan l’kaf zchus,” to judge someone else favorably.
I personally find it very difficult to give someone else the benefit of the doubt. I think to myself, “How could that person possibly be innocent?” I have a very easy time blaming other people. This boy in Lakewood taught me something of great value: he made me realize we have to work hard at trying to judge others favorably and that God even gave us a specific character trait, imagination, to enable us to do it when it seems there are no exonerating circumstances.
I don’t mean we should indulge in fantasy to judge someone favorably; I mean we should exert ourselves to understand just how that person might in fact really be innocent when in fact he or she seems obviously guilty.
I do not know the facts behind the news story, but I do know the media are full of lies. I also know that any excuse to portray Jews, especially religious Jews, in a negative light is seized upon with delight by a world that wants to believe we are worthy of its hatred.
In the month of Elul, we should be learning to look critically not at others but at ourselves. That is the only place where our efforts can have any effect. We can speak about the faults of others until eternity, but it will only create poison and darkness. Sinas chinam, unwarranted hatred among Jews, is, according to our sages, the only reason we are in this seemingly interminable exile. Sinas chinam and its “children,” lashon ha’ra and rechilus, are the reasons we do not have a Bais HaMikdash today, that we are not all together in peace, harmony and safety in our Holy Land.
When are we going to stop?
When are we going to take this seriously?
When are we going to point the finger at ourselves instead of others?
On Yom Kippur we say “Chattasi – I have sinned.” We do not say “you have sinned.”
No one else is responsible for my problems. It’s not the rabbi, the gabbai, the synagogue, the yeshiva, the economy, the president of Iran. It’s not my wife and it’s not my husband and it’s not my parents.
I am responsible.
Unless and until we stop blaming others, we will not be able to heal the world.
Let us all look in the mirror. Let us all say, with deep conviction:
“Tatti, my Father in Heaven, please let me see my faults. Please let me cry over my inadequacies. Please heal me. I have so much work to do. It seems endless, but I know You will help me if I beg You with all my heart and all my soul.”
Just remember: even if we don’t deserve Moshiach, God deserves Moshiach. He is suffering so much at the quarrels of His children, at our terrible exile and His own “exile,” because He is with us. He is waiting to save us. He has promised again and again, and He always fulfills His promises. Even if we don’t deserve it, He will bring our Redeemer l’ma’an shmo b’ahava, for His Name’s sake, with love (Shemoneh Esrei, first blessing).
Let’s give Him nachas. All the signs are in place. This is the month. This is the year. This is the time. “For God will comfort Zion. He shall comfort all her ruins. He shall make her wilderness like Eden and her wasteland like a garden…. Joy and gladness shall be found there, thanksgiving and the sound of music” (Isaiah 51:3, Haftaras Eikev).
About the Author: Roy Neuberger's latest book, “2020 Vision” (Feldheim) is available in English, Hebrew, Spanish, French, Russian, and Georgian. An e-edition is available at www.feldheim.com. Roy is also the author of "From Central Park to Sinai: How I Found My Jewish Soul” (available in English, Hebrew and Russian, and Georgian) and “Worldstorm.” Roy and Leah Neuberger speak publicly on topics related to his books and articles. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his websites www.tosinai.com and www.2020visionthebook.com. Roy and Leah Neuberger speak publicly on topics related to his books and articles. He can be contacted at email@example.com or through his websites www.tosinai.com and www.2020visionthebook.com.
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Latvia, July 4, 1941 they forced many Jews in the shul putting it on fire; everyone was burned alive
There’s blood on the reporters’ hands AND New Israel Fund for funding groups feeding lies to the UN
Respect & appreciation for our country is not only a civic value but an essential Jewish one as well
Israel, like the non-radical Islamic world. will be happy see the ISIS beheaded for once.
Kids shouldn’t have “uninstructed” Internet access, better to train them how to use it responsibly
What if years from now, IS were to control substantial territory? What world havoc would that wreak?
Rambam writes the verse’s double term refers to 2 messiahs: first King David; 2nd the final Mashiach
The Gaza flotilla has been rightfully and legally blocked by Israel’s Navy, with greetings from Bibi
The president described the attack as “an act that drew on a long history of bombs and arson and shots fired at churches, not random, but as a means of control, a way to terrorize and oppress…”
“The only [candidate] that’s going to give real support to Israel is me,” said the 69-year-old Trump.
And whereas at the outset the plan was that Iran would have to surrender most of its centrifuges, it will now be able to retain several thousand.
Now oil independent, US no longer needs its former strategic alliances with Gulf States-or Israel
Jews thank Hashem at every step. We thank Him for our most basic physical existence. We thank Hashem for every step, for every breath, for every aspect of our elevation from the dust.
In the recent Gaza war and its aftermath, we saw a totally illogical reaction from the world.
Our rabbis told us it’s going to be very difficult before Mashiach comes. Should we fool ourselves?
The unwarranted hatred among us that caused the destruction of the Second Temple clearly still plagues us.
At the end of the harvest, winter begins. The earth becomes cold and hard, nights are long, and the sun seems far away in the southern sky. The sap ceases to flow in the trees. But in this season of temporary “death” Hashem sends down harbingers of coming life in the form of tal u’matar livrachah – dew and rain for a blessing – upon the earth.
“Logically” speaking, after the millennia of hatred and destruction directed against us, there should not be one Jew in the world today who still keeps the Torah.
They were lining up for gas masks in Israel.
Apparently, at the very time of year we are supposed to be full of simcha, Hashem wants us to be aware of the possibility of danger. Indeed, during the Yom Tov of Sukkos, we read cataclysmic haftaras dealing with the ultimate war, the Milchemes Gog Umagog. Where does that war take place? In the Holy Land, of course, where the eyes of the world are always focused.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/time-to-look-in-the-mirror/2009/08/19/
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