Friday, October 9, 2009

It's all about the "Do-Over"

If I were a betting man, I think that the Detroit Tigers are wishing about now that they could get a Do-Over. I believe that they would call their "Do-Over" September and October. Unfortunately for them, like the rest of us, they will be watching the Twins get beat up by the Yankees. Fortunately, their "Do-Over" is just a game. Our "Do-Overs", are not.

Today is Hoshana Raba, or the "Big Hoshana". When we shake the Lulav for the last time of the year during the harvest holiday of Sukkot, and prepare for Simchat Torah, the Celebration of Torah, which begins tomorrow night, we remember that Hoshana Raba is also the final chance that we have at that big book of life that we have all be pushing to get into and be sealed within for the past few weeks. Hopefully, we get our Do-Over.
We apologized and continue to apologize for all that we have done that may have hurt others or ourselves during the past year, and look forward to doing "better" in the coming year. The big question is: Will we?

Will the man in the brown shirt continue to yell at his girlfriend in public? Will he save his outbursts for private venues, or will he learn to better communicate? Will the gentle man who once left the East Coast of the United States to fight for Israel in Lebanon come to terms with the truth that he is indeed a Hero of Israel, a great father and a "mensch"? Will he value himself again and begin to take better care of himself? Will the mother who prefers the company of her married boss to that of her children catch herself in time, this time?

We all have done things that prevent us from becoming better. Better Jews; better Christians; better fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, doctors, Rabbis; things that would in short, make us better people.

Why is it then, that with all of the "Do-Overs" that we ask for and are not offered; all the complaining that we do that "life is not fair"; all the loopholes that we seek, we seem to tend to take for granted the biggest and most important "Do-Over" that we could, and do, pray for? The "Do-Over" that G-d gives us when the Shofar is blown on Yom Kippur night.

We seem to take these "Do-Overs" for granted an continue to live with the "But First Syndrome". We will all say at some point: I'd really like to start working out, but first I need to... I really need to call my Uncle Moishe and apologize for being rude to him, but first I have to... I really should attend Synagogue this Shabbat, but first...

Does G-d listen to us on Yom Kippur and say: I really need to forgive these people, but first...?

I read this morning a tale written by a religious man, who penned about his recent experience near the Kotel in Jerusalem earlier today. He wrote that he was somehow acosted and detained by Israeli Police for "calling upon people" to ascend to the Temple Mount, which, could have incited serious objection from our Moslem cousins on the mount. Rather than simply forward us readers this news, instead he used his forum to comment negatively toward the very people who carry the job of protecting our dear little Country. Rather than walking to the Wall with thousands of others, he preferred to continue to incite, and in fact, asked others to help him to do so via a very public forum. Will this man, a religious and level headed man find a way to reconcile with himself? We he use his "Do-Over"?

As we begin another beautiful cycle of reading the Torah from beginning to end, starting at Bereishit (Genesis) from literally the beginning and to the end of Deuteronomy, Dvarim with the final Parsha, v'Zot haBracha, and This is the Blessing", let us all try to use this "Do-Over" for good and to not take it for granted. May we use it to better ourselves and to help those around us to better themselves. May we be kinder and more gentle not with just each other, but with ourselves.

From the Emek in the Midbar, the Valley in the Desert, I wish you all a Shabbat Shalom, v'Chag Sameach. A peaceful and restful Shabbat and joyous holiday.

Ahavah v'Vrachot, Love and Blessings...

Rabbi Alan Abrams

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