June 15, 2024
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Rosh Hashanah: The Power of Doing Mitzvos

There is a Yid in Yerushalayim known as Tizku l’Mitzvos (may you merit fulfilling further mitzvos). He received this nickname by spending his days raising money for poor people, saying to his donors, “tizku l’mitzvos” as he walked around the various shuls and yeshivos to raise the needed funds. One rainy day, my good friend Rabbi Moshe Ginian was driving in Yerushalayim and saw Reb Tizku l’Mitzvos standing at a street corner, totally drenched. Moshe offered him a ride, which he gladly accepted. “Now is my opportunity,” thought Moshe, “to inquire about this man’s unique story.” They made small talk until he felt comfortable enough to ask, “I see you in various shuls raising money for poor people. How did you get involved in this?” Reb Tizku l’Mitzvos began his story.

“I used to be a very successful electrician. A few years ago, my wife passed away. A couple months later, I was accidently hit by a bus and went flying, landing on my head. When I awoke, I was totally paralyzed. I went home weeks later, being told I’d be paralyzed for life. When my youngest child got engaged, I gave them my apartment and moved in with one of my married children. I felt so good, so fortunate that all my children got married. Still, I couldn’t move. One day, I looked up to the heavens and said, “Hashem, you did not give me life for no reason. I can’t move, so what am I here for? If you give me the ability to walk again, I will dedicate my days to mitzvos; I will spend my days raising money for your needy children.’”

“The next day,” he said, “I was able to move my right arm ever so slightly and the next day my left arm; the next week my right leg and the next my left leg. Slowly, very slowly, my ability to move returned. After months of intensive rehab, I was able to walk and use my arms and legs. I was fully mobile! So I got on a bus and traveled around, starting to raise money to fulfill my pledge to Hashem to devote my life to doing mitzvos. Hence my refrain ‘Tizku l’mitzvos,’ as I have been raising funds for the needy over the past 10 years. I want you to know I have very little money of my own and I live in my married daughter’s apartment. But I am the wealthiest person! I feel so fortunate that all my children are married and healthy and well and that I have constant opportunities to help the needy.”

My friend Rabbi Ginian told me he was going through a difficult period financially at that time and wasn’t sure what to do. His meeting ‘Tizku l’Mitzvos” was a clear message from Hashem: “Don’t worry about finances. You have wonderful children who keep Torah and mitzvos; you are the wealthiest person! This is why you are alive—tizku l’mitzvos!

The coming week is Rosh Hashanah and our entire fate for the coming year is being determined. We plead to Hashem to give us life.

Why do we want to live? Do we want Hashem to give us life so we can munch on Cheerios and eat sushi and steak? So we can work hard at our jobs? Of course we need to eat to be healthy and we need to work to pay our bills. But is that why we are alive? Is that all there is?

From Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur we insert near the beginning of Shemoneh Esrei “…Please inscribe us in the book of life for Your sake, Hashem.” Rav Chaim Freidlander explains that there are three different books within the Book of Life: a book of blessing, a book of peace and a book of good earnings, mentioned in “b’sefer chaim” near the end of the Shemoneh Esrei. We daven so that we may be inscribed in each of the vital books!

How can we attain that favorable judgement? The quality of life we merit will be determined by how much we commit ourselves to spread the sovereignty of Hashem in the world. How do we do that? We must acknowledge Hashem as our Creator, always have in mind that he is watching over us for our benefit, learn His Torah and always look for opportunities to perform His mitzvos. If we scrupulously live in this manner, we may ask to be inscribed in the special book of life titled, “Lema’ancha Elokim Chayim—Life for Your sake, Hashem.” That is an “upgrade” from the regular Book of Life, where we are expressing our sincere desire to be faithful soldiers of Hashem. Soldiers are provided with food and lodging and even money…as long as they are serving their King and His people.

May we all be written and sealed in the Book of Life and merit to continue performing Hashem’s mitzvos in good health. Tizku l’mitzvos!


Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim is the associate rosh yeshiva of Passaic Torah Institute (PTI)/Yeshiva Ner Boruch, where he leads a multi-level Gemara-learning program. PTI has attracted adult Jews of all ages from all over northern New Jersey for its learning programs. Fees are not charged but any contributions are always welcome. Beyond PTI, Rabbi Bodenheim conducts a weekly beis midrash program with chavrusa learning in Livingston plus a monthly group in West Caldwell. Rabbi Bodenheim can be reached at [email protected]. For more info about PTI and its Torah classes, visit www.pti.shulcloud.com.

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