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Beit Midrash Shabbat and Holidays The High Holidays

The Corporate Take-over

Rabbi Stewart WeissTishrei 4 5776
122
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"Lord, it’s hard to be humble – when you’re perfect in every way!"

That classic C and W song seems to perfectly sum up the contrasting moods of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. We gravitate between feeling very confident of ourselves – indeed, we are said to approximate angels, dressed in pure white - and yet fearful of our future, pleading with G-d to please forgive us and let us go on living.

We are, as the Tefila so aptly says, both "favored children ("banim"), as well as lowly servants ("avadim").

Rav Yehoshua Goodman zt"l, the sainted rav of my shul in Chicago, was one of the leaders of Chabad in the city; it was he who first instilled in us the desire to do kiruv. He took me under his wing & trained me. ("If you want to lead ‘em, you have to feed ‘em!" was one of the lessons he taught us).

In my mind’s eye, I can still see him in shul on Yom Kippur, as he stood majestically wrapped in his Talit, intensely reciting the prayer, "L’kel Orech Din." It is a Tefila which places us, as it were, in the docket, in court, being tried by the Heavenly Tribunal. When he reached the line that says "To He who acquires His servants in judgment," ("L’koneh avadav ba-din") he would break down crying, vigorously nodding his head up and down in agreement.

I asked him why this line was so special, so crucial, and he explained:

"We mortals think we are so powerful, so independent, so much in control of our fate. But the truth is, try as we might, we really have little or no control at all over the vicissitudes of life. Danger is everywhere, and problems lurk around every corner. At some point – if we are humble and wise – we learn that our only real safety lies in coming under Hashem’s saving power."

"And so, we acknowledge to G-d that we truly, literally ARE His servants, for we know that the Torah commands the master to protect his servants, to see to their needs, to feed, shelter and safeguard them from harm. And since even Hashem is bound to abide by His own Torah, we declare that he is the Master and we are the servant. In that way, we can ‘force’ Him to take care of us. That is the power of this prayer, and that is why I focus so passionately on it."

I am a great believer in the partnership between Man and G-d. I hold that we must not be passive spectators; Hashem wants us to actively work in tandem with Him to move this world along towards Geula. But we should never let that confidence go to our heads; we must remember that we are the junior partner, while G-d is the Corporation! There is no greater goal, no better security, than being "acquired" by Hashem. When that happens – just like in the world of business - everyone gains.
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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