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HAPPY NEW YEAR
A Time For Repentance,
An Opportunity For Peace
Interestingly, considering the situation
of our people Israel today, Rashi states
that the angels pleaded with HaShem
not to save Ishmael because his off-
spring would later be responsible for
the persecution and murder of many
HaShem, however, responds by -
saying that He judges man only as he
he month of Elul is classi-
is at the moment. This shows us that
cally designated as a month
when HaShem examines each person
of personal reflection, a
to see if they deserve mercy, He only
time when we look closely _
judges us at the time of repentance.
at the sins we have committed,
Before Yom Kippur, the time when
preparing to ask God and our fellow
the fate of each of us is
human beings to forgive our
there are 10 days
gives us to ask
The first day of Rosh
Hashanah is when one's
mindset must change —
defines a time when person-
from one of rumination into
al prayer becomes a very
an internal plea for
crucial step toward
HaShem's mercy for trans-
HaShem's grace. Only the
gressions committed during
(meaning) that one
the past year. Even individu-
als who have committed a
large number of sins have the
of sins that one has com-
chance for forgiveness by the
mitted or will commit.
Special to the
Almighty if their prayers are
Proper prayer can overturn
full of true intent.
HaShem's judgment (Rosh
The Torah portion that is
read on the first day of Rosh
One must realize that we, as the
Hashanah illustrates some very impor-
Jewish people, differ from Ishmael in
tant components of HaShem's mercy.
HaShem's eyes, and, therefore, our
After Sarah gives birth to Isaac, she
form of repentance has an extra ele-
.is very relieved that Ishmael, son of
ment. Our unique inheritance as
Hagar, would not be Abraham's heir
Jewish people is our special closeness
to whom the birthright and inheri-
to God and, therefore, the added
tance of the Jewish people would be
opportunity for joy in serving him.
passed. She decides to expel Hagar
Despite the solemnity in the meaning
and Ishmael into the desert of
the day, Rosh Hashanah is consid-
ered a Yom Tov.
Lacking food and water, Hagar
As Rabbi Yosef Edelstein wrote,
wept for her son's life. Ishmael, too,
"Reflect on your life and its direction
cried for salvation. It is written that
on Rosh Hashanah a line of
Hashem heard the cries of Ishmael
thought that might well lead you to-
and performed a miracle, creating a
worry (or weep). But above all
well to save Ishmael's life.
Among the many things to be
The joy that we Jews experience
learned from this section of the Rosh
during the days of our judgment is
Hashanah Torah portion, two stand
primary is separating God's chosen
out. First is the emphasis on the
people from all other nations.
importance of personal prayer.
Pray from your heart, and may we
Though the verse only mentions
all find peace in the coming year.
the fact that Hagar was weeping, it
tells us that it was Ishmael's cry that
HaShem heard. Rashi wrote that this
distinction teaches us a person's heart-
felt prayer for himself is preferable to
others praying for him, and is sooner
to be heard.
Second, it is noted that the descen-
What examples can you recall
dents of Ishmael would later become
from the Bible of the success of
the Arab population of today.
personal prayer? In what ways
can we ask for forgiveness and
thereby obtain true repentance?
Leonard Gutman is the ritual director
Shabbat Rosh Hashanah
First Day: Genesis 21:1-
34; Numbers 29:1-6; I
Samuel 1: 1-2: 10.
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