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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Shana Tova

I recieved the following Dvar Torah from one of the readers. I thought it was very beautiful and wanted to share it with everyone:

Rav Yitzchak Izik Sher (Leket Sichot Mussar, Vol 2, p. 34) quotes a famous statement of Maimonides (Rambam) that every single person has merits (mitzvot) and negative acts (aveirot). One whose merits are greater is “good”, one whose negative acts are greater is “evil”, and one whose merits and negative acts are equal is “in the middle” – which is how we should view ourselves, especially at this time of year. The Rambam complicates this statement by adding that there are certain positive acts which, alone, equate to many negative acts and vice versa – however, the only one who can make such a calculation is G-d. Rav Sher, quoting a number of sources, raises the question – how do we know if we are doing enough to make sure that we are being judged favorably? What should our approach be to raise ourselves to the level of a “good” person, worthy of a positive judgment on Rosh HaShana?

Rav Sher suggests a marvelously simple yet profound approach that can be applied to all mitzvot as well as to avoid negative acts. When performing a mitzvah, it is not simply enough to comply with the legal requirements, rather, one must also do it with one’s heart as well. By looking at a positive act not simply as an obligation, but as a way of life, worthy of sacrifice and effort, one is transformed as the mitzvah is no longer an abstract act, but rather a way of life that serves to improve not only the participant, but all of those impacted by it as well. We do not know how G-d views that specific mitzvah – whether or not it counts for a lot or a little, but we can certainly use the heartfelt emotion and feeling as a means to truly enhance and improve our overall lives.