Monday, October 6, 2014

After Yom Kippur

When looking through the machzor on Yom Kippur night, there is one part of the chazzaras hashatz that really spoke to me.

We say mi she'ana ya'aneinu-He who answered....May He answer us. And there is a different phrase inserted each time. A time Hashem answered someone and we ask Him to please answer our prayers too. 

Avraham Avinu b'har hamoriah...Yosef b'veis ha'asurim...avoseinu b'yam suf...Yehoshuah Bagilgal...Eliyahu b'har hacarmel...Yonah bm'eih hadaga...Chananya, Mishael, V'azaryah b'soch kivshan ha'eish...

Each of these people called out to Hashem at a time of extreme desperation. And Hashem answered them. And the list is quite long.

And I thought to myself...If Hashem saved Yonah from the innards of the fish and Chananya, Mishael and Azarya from inside a burning furnace, can't he help little me? Can't I rely on Him to hear my little prayers? 

I looked at this tefillah and concentrated on the words. I thought about each of the stories. I thought back to the time that these people turned to Hashem because they knew He was the only One who could help them. I thought about what it took for Hashem to save each of them. Hashem made miracles! For Yehoshua, He made the sun stand still in the sky. And for me...I don't need big miracles. I just need Him to help me with my little life. And nothing is too big for Hashem. If He could save three people from inside a burning fire, He surely can save me from the difficulties I am experiencing.

This tefillah gave me a powerful feeling of emunah and trust in Hashem. It helped open my eyes to the awesome power He has. So when I feel hopeless, when I feel lost, when I feel alone, I know that I can turn to Hashem and He can do anything to help things get better. He has such incredible capabilities...and I can ask Him for anything and everything I need and want. Hashem is unlimited...and I need to take advantage of that when I daven to Him...for myself and for those close to me.

Yom Kippur is a day when I try to look back at the previous year and think about the changes...think about where I was a year ago...what was going on in my life...and realize how much was decided just one year before. It's a powerful day...and it scares me. It scares me to think about how much will be sealed on this day for the coming year. Every day, every stress, every change. I davened and continue to hope there will be many good changes this year.

I want to hold on to these feelings. Of relying on Hashem completely and recognizing that it is He who decides what changes will happen in the coming year. It was He who mapped out my life and my challenges. It is He who created me with my specific strengths and weaknesses. He gave me the exact tools I need to overcome the tests of life and become the person I am meant to become. It will take strength, it will take work, but I know that He is the One planning this all. And there is comfort in that knowledge.

This is what succos is about. It's about leaving our large, comfortable homes and going into a small, cozy little house-to be with Hashem. To be in His shadow. To be in His embrace. R' Shimshon Pincus zt"l says that the walls of the sukkah are like a hug from Hashem. After all the inspiration gained from Rosh Hashana, the aseres yimei teshuva and Yom Kippur, Hashem is not ready to let the closeness end. He wants us to come spend even more time with Him. So we enter the walls of the sukkah and it is as if Hashem is giving us a hug. The walls are His arms embracing us. I found that thought so heartwarming. 

Succos is a time to increase our emunah in Hashem. It is a time when we can realize and internalize on a deeper level just how much we depend on Him for everything. We leave our homes to show just that. When we are outside, we can let go of all the outer trappings of our homes-the chandeliers, the bookcases, the drapes on the windows...and focus on what really is important to us. Our spirituality, our relationship with Hashem, living a Torah life and doing the mitzvos. And we remind ourselves how much we rely on Hashem for all the good we have. It is not our hard work that brings the results, it is He who decides exactly how much we should have and how much we should spend, what our expenses will be and how much we will save.

How lucky we are to have these yomim tovim! We have a chance to reflect on our past year and on ourselves as people and think about the changes we want to make. We have an opportunity to renew our commitment when we felt ourselves slipping back. And we are able to strengthen our emunah and trust in Hashem so we can rely on Him with more passion and feeling over the coming year...knowing it is He who we can turn to whenever we need. Because Hashem can do anything. Just like He saved Yosef from the prison in Mitzrayim and Daniel from the lions' den, just like He heard their tefillos, He will hear ours too. And we hope He will answer them and we will have a positive outcome. 

Wishing you all a wonderful and inspiring succos.

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