April 23, 2024
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April 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Sometime during the spring, my wife handed me a brand-new set of barbecue instruments she had just purchased so that I could tovel (immerse) them in a mikvah so that we could use them. Our old ones had seen better days, and with barbecue season just about to begin, the new ones would come in handy. I placed the package in my car so that I would remember to take care of it.

It’s been almost six months now. It’s still sitting there.

It only takes a few minutes to drive to the mikvah and take care of it, but I constantly reason that I could do it some other time. The days and weeks have passed, and they are still there. People who have come into my car and have seen the pack comment that I must be a big griller. In truth I’m just being a big procrastinator because I haven’t felt the absolute need to take care of it immediately. We have enjoyed many barbecues this summer season, and although the new instruments would have been helpful, we have gotten by fine without them.

It seems that the things which can get done anytime often don’t get done at all.

Rosh Hashanah is referred to as a day of light. In what way is the day that we, and the entire world, stand in meticulous judgment a day of light?

In a certain sense, Rosh Hashanah is an experience that we do not have in any other area of Judaism. Judaism is a religion that espouses hope and the constant ability to change. Everything about Judaism encourages us that there is no finality. Until one’s dying breath he can repent. There is always hope. A Jew must never fall into despair even in the face of impossible odds.

But on Rosh Hashanah the year comes to its definite end. The books of the previous year are reviewed and then sealed. The precise judgment of Rosh Hashanah is to determine what we deserve based on our performance of the previous year. Rosh Hashanah is the deadline.

A secretary had a sign hanging next to her desk which read: “Don’t complain about what you didn’t get; just be happy you don’t get what you deserve!”

On Rosh Hashanah we are written in the book based on precise judgment. In other words, we are written for what we deserve. Then we spend the next week imploring God for compassion and to not seal us based on our performance, but rather based on our inner desire and yearning for greater levels. We engage in supreme efforts to alter the decree based on our level of teshuva and commitment in the coming year, but Rosh Hashanah itself exudes a feeling that the deadline has arrived.

Ironically, it is in that sense that Rosh Hashanah is a day of light, because it serves as a stark reminder that we don’t have all the time in the world. We cannot relegate our aspirations and goals to “when I get around to it” because the clock is ticking.

How often do we not get around to doing things that are important until we get the proverbial kick in the pants, until the deadline looms menacingly in front of us.

Rosh Hashanah symbolizes to us that we need to take advantage of our time because nothing is forever. As someone once quipped “Every tomorrow has its own tomorrow but there’s only one today.”

The Paneach Raza and other commentaries explain that when the pasuk states in Parshas Nitzavim “You are standing here today,” it is a reference to the day of Rosh Hashanah, the day that reminds us that today is the greatest gift we have.

This week my son handed me a new thermos he needs me to tovel because he needs it for school tomorrow. Guess where I’m going today.


Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW, is a popular speaker and author. He is a rebbe in Heichal HaTorah in Teaneck, NJ, and an experienced therapist, recently returning to seeing clients in private practice, as part of the Rockland CBT group. For appointments Rabbi Staum can be reached at 914-295-0115. Looking for an inspirational and motivating speaker or scholar-in-residence? Contact Rabbi Staum for a unique speaking experience. Rabbi Staum can be reached at [email protected]. Archives of his writings can be found at www.stamtorah.info.

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