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Beit Midrash Shabbat and Holidays Rosh Hashana

Do It – Just Do It!!

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Rosh Hashana & Yom Kippur celebrate the marriage between G-d & the Jewish People. The white clothes we wear, our fasting & going to the Mikva before YK, the focus & devotion we have to one another during these intense days form an "exchange of vows" between us.

But, just as in courtship, there is a special passion which precedes the actual ceremony, & so we dispense with some of our precious sleeping time even before RH arrives, in order to recite the Selichot prayers. Among the most poignant of these prayers is the "Aseh L’ma’an…." section which pleads with G-d: "If we do not have the merit to be forgiven, then do it because You are good; do it in the merit of our holy ancestors; do it in the name of all those who went through fire & water, persecution & pogrom & gave their lives for You; do it for the sake of the innocent children who never committed a sin."

I suggest that if we slightly adapt this Tefila, using its same style & approach, we might be able to self-motivate ourselves & intensify our Yamim Noraim pleas to the Almighty. We should turn the prayer around; instead of us talking to G-d about what HE should do, we should rather be listening to other voices that speak to us, to our souls, & tell us what WE should be doing:

Aseh L’Maan Ha’Sabim; HaBubbe V’HaZayde: Do it for the sake of our grandparents & great-grand-parents. They may hardly have known us, or perhaps never even met us, but they prayed for & dreamed of having grandchildren who would make them proud, who would carry their name & bring honor to it. They knew that all they accomplished, everything they stood for, would come to naught if we, years after their passing, rejected their values & failed to live up to their standards.

Aseh L’Maan Ha-Horim: Do it for the sake of our parents, who took care of us when we were helpless, who raised us, loved us, guided us, sacrificed everything for us. All their hopes & dreams reside in us, in our behavior & in our success; how CAN we – how dare we - let them
down?

Aseh L’Maan Ha-Y’Ladim: Do it for the sake of our children. They look up to us, they respect us, we are the model & example they crave to follow - even if they seem rebellious. If we falter, if we do not continually strengthen our ties to Hashem, how can we expect THEM to maintain their own connection?

Aseh L’Maan Atzmeynu: Do it for our own sake. For when all is said & done, WE are the prime recipients, the main beneficiaries of a closer union with G-d. It will enrich our lives, connect us to our glorious past, and bring us much bracha.

Shana Tova!
Rabbi Stewart Weiss
Was ordained at the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois, and led congregations in Chicago and Dallas prior to making Aliyah in 1992. He directs the Jewish Outreach Center in Ra'anana, helping to facilitate the spiritual absorption of new olim.
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