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Yom Hadin is almost here and this time of year brings with it a range of emotions. Some people are excited - a new year, the start of school, new clothing. For others, Rosh Hashanah instills fear - the need to correct wrongdoings, to beg for forgiveness and make promises to be better. For still others, there is a feeling of being overwhelmed - either by the awe of the Yom Hadin or perhaps the reality of so many days of Shabbos, Yom Tov, Shabbos (that's a lot of cooking and baking). We are often so busy taking care of all the “things" that need to be done, that we don’t have enough time for spiritual and emotional preparation. It feels like most years I come to Selichos feeling as if I haven't done enough to prepare.
There is an urgency in the two Torah commandments whose obligation is constant and ever-present: to learn Torah and to repent. The Torah is clear about this urgency in the Shema: "These words, which I command you this day, make them as a sign upon your heart and between your eyes "
Having walked through the Valley of Death, I feel I can understand Shavuos better. My wife and I just returned from Auschwitz and other tragic sites in Poland. We were never there before and I had thought we never would be, but an opportunity arose and we took it. What does this have to do with Shavuos? Everything.