Photo Credit: Flash 90
A Jewish man blows a shofar at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City

{Originally posted to The Lid website}

With the setting of the sun on Sunday, Jews across the world will begin the observance of the “Yomim Noraim “(Days of Awe), a ten-day period that is book-ended by the High Holidays of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. The High Holidays come at a key time for America as the Democratic Party continues to push America away from personal responsibility and toward reliance on government and even socialism,

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The High Holiday period is all about personal responsibility. All the prayers and readings are just tools to help us look inward, formulate a personal accounting of our deeds over the past year, good and bad, and to understand what we have learned or need to learn to correct.

Even the method of atoning for our sins goes against progressive values. Jews are taught that our Maker is not like a big massive government that will fix everything for us. For earthly-type mistakes, we must first approach the people we harmed to request forgiveness and if necessary, make restitution to them. Then we must discover what led us to behave that way and correct the flaw catalyzing such behavior. Only then, can we approach God for absolution.

It’s not that God cannot fix everything, but his direct involvement would destroy the delicate balance he set up during creation.

The creation narrative in Genesis explains that man is created in God’s image. With those words, the Torah is not teaching us that we are all dead ringers for the “big guy upstairs.” If that were the case everyone’s driver’s license would have the same picture, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue would seem a bit creepy, many crimes would go unsolved as eyewitness testimony would be useless and everyone would have the same DNA.

The idea of being “created in God’s image” is supposed to teach us that just as God acts as a free being without prior restraint to do right and wrong, so does man. Our Maker performs “good” as a matter of his own free choice. And because we are created in his image, man also has the opportunity to do the right thing as a matter of free choice. Only through free choice, can man truly be “in the image of God.”

That is why God created a world where both good and evil can operate freely. The Rabbis explained this when they said; “All is in the hands of Heaven except the fear of Heaven” (Talmud, Berachot 33b). In other words, God controls all the options we have, but it is up to man to pick between good and bad

In an English dictionary, the word sin is defined as:

Any act regarded as such a transgression, esp. a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principle.

There is no word in Hebrew matching that definition. Instead, the word used on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is “chet.” It is an archery term referring to an arrow that “missed the target.” The person who missed the mark is considered to have made a mistake due to a lack of focus, concentration, or skill. The purpose of the High Holidays is for each of us to determine why they missed the mark. The answer cannot come from someone else or from the government. It has to come from inside each person.

In the same vein, the Hebrew word commonly translated as repentance, “Teshuvah,” actually means return. In other words, we have returned to the correct path. Its real meaning is much more than just repentance, which implies merely feeling sorry for what you have done. Teshuvah involves changing what it is inside you that led you to go off-course, (a concept that many politicians should adopt).

The Rabbis tell us the only way to do “Teshuvah” is by undergoing personal reflection and personal choice (as opposed to governmental regulation). God gives us a roadmap in the Torah, Prophets, Psalms and other sacred texts; he even gave us coaches (Rabbis), but to truly change ourselves and ultimately to indeed change the world, we have to discover for ourselves the best way to read the roadmap.

In its purest essence, the Jewish High Holiday period is the antithesis of the various forms of liberal and progressive government. We learn from the “Ten Days of Awe” that we must be honest with ourselves and rely on our own introspection to find the right path. We learn that while God may be evaluating the path we take, and he provides a road map to the right way, he does not nor will not make the decisions for us. Progressive and leftist governments take free will away; they make the decisions, determine the path, eliminate the need for introspection and the opportunity for each one of us to find those sparks of God in the world.

What progressive/liberal governments take from their citizens is the greatest joy of all— finding for themselves the path that will draw them closer to God and becoming feeling that closeness with every Mitzvah.  Finding that path is what the “Yomim Noraim” are all about.

To everyone who is reading this post, your friends and families, Jewish or Gentile:

 שנה טובה ומתוקה

May you have a happy, healthy and sweet new year

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