Parshas Nitzavim/Vayelech – The Most Wonderful Time of Year

Apples and HoneyIt’s that time of the year again.

Shofars are blowing, apples are dipping, briskets are cooking, and honey is sticking.

But, most importantly, G-d Himself is calling.

With apologies to Andy Williams, this is the most wonderful time of the year.

Now admittedly, many Jews view the “Days of Awe” as more awful than awesome, but that is a shame. Because beyond all the praying and all the eating, besides all the ceremony and tradition, there is a simple yet profound idea that Rosh Hashana represents.

Change.  Renewal.  A second chance.

These concepts are built into the vary fabric of the day of Rosh Hashana. This is the day when, thousands of years ago, man was created, literally with a whole world of opportunity at his disposal. And he blew it, big time.

But G-d didn’t give up on him.

And G-d doesn’t give up on us.

He gave Adam and Eve a second chance; He gives each and every one of us multiple chances.

And who among us couldn’t use another opportunity?

Not only does G-d give us another chance, He tells us that he has confidence that, despite our past, we have what it takes to achieve greatness.

Speaking of our ability to renew ourselves, this week’s Torah portion tells us:

“It is not hidden from you, nor is it distant. It is not in heaven . . . nor across the sea . . . Rather, it is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.”

This Torah portion is read right before Rosh Hashana, to remind us of this lesson. It reminds us that Rosh Hashana is not only the day of creation, but, more importantly, the day of re-creation. A day that offers the opportunity to re-create ourselves and realize the highest, outer limits of our utmost potential.

So this year listen carefully to the sound of the shofar. It is the haunting call of a loving Father cajoling His children to be all that He knows they can be.

Rabbi Yitzchok Oratz is the Rabbi and Director of the Monmouth Torah Links community. Shortly after receiving his semicha (rabbinic ordination) from Bais Medrash Govoha, the famed Lakewood Yeshiva, Rabbi Oratz, along with his wife Toby and family, moved to Marlboro, NJ where they co-founded the MTL community in 2001. Aside for his “Devar on the Par” that he writes for MTL, his writings have also been published on Aish, Times of Israel, Seforim Blog, Hakira, and in various Rabbinic journals. Rabbi Oratz looks forward to continuing teaching Torah in a way that is timely and timeless, and sharing meaningful Jewish experiences with the amazing MTL community.

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