Shana Tova!

I'd just like to leave you all with this Devar Torah from Rav Nachman of Breslov as a message for us to take into Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur:

All beginnings are hard! How is a person going to be stirred to return to G-D if there isn't a single spark of G-D's light inside him to wake him up? And how can G-D's light begin to draw within him if he hasn't even started to return to Him? For "no stranger shall eat of the Holy thing." (Leviticus 22:10) [i.e. when we slip so far and decend into sin, how can we hope to approach G-D for repentance, since we have so soiled ourselves with our many sins - Ivri]

Where is the starting point? Even if G-D takes pity and radiates light into the depths of this person's darkness, he is already so broken and shattered by his sins that he cannot contain the light [of G-Dliness - Ivri]. This is why is happens that at times a person may be stirred to return to G-D for a while, but then he falls away. The same thing can happen several times in succession. The reason is that he still has not prepared the vessels that can contain the light stirring within him [i.e. he has not worked on himself to allow for sustainable periods of growth, yet Rav Nachman explains in other places (as does Chassidut in general) that even the worst Jew has a spark of holiness inside him/her - that is, the inherent potential to be righteous, and a part of the Nation of Yisrael - Ivri]

The same is true of the people of Israel as a whole. We have endured repeated exiles and redemptions. In the time of Joshua we entered the Land of Israel and conquered it. But later on, we went into exile. Later still we returned for a time. Then came another exile. But all the time, "The right Hand of G-D is held high" (Psalms 118:16) to eternity. Every time that Israel was able to return to the Land, there were miraculous achievements in the work of reconstruction. Afterwards the Evil One [i.e. the "yetzer hara" - not an actual independant "Satan" - Ivri] returned and the Children of Israel relapsed and slid away. But the imprint of all that was accomplished remained - and it is still with us today. It is through the power of this residue that there is life in us, even at the height of our present exile. Because of this we can still achieve flashes of spiritual vision.

So it is with someone who struggles in the service of G-D. He makes a start, then he falls away... he starts again and he falls away. He may even slip completely G-D forbid. Yet even the merest scraps of good which he succeeded in doing leave their imprint. These traces in themselves are something awesome. They too are essential for our present task, as we await the arrival of the Messiah...

...Every deed which any Jew accomplishes now, be it learning Torah, a prayer, an act of charity or any of the other precepts - all are dear beyond words in the Eyes of G-D. If someone has made an effort to serve G-D, then even if he later falls to appalling depths, not a single scrap of the work he has done before will be lost. Even a thought or the faintest stirring is never lost...

...All these "scraps" bring great joy in the higher worlds. Every single one of them is crucial. Without it the Building [i.e. the Temple] could never be complete.

It is the same as when nine men are waiting to pray. They may be the greatest Tzaddikim. But being nine they are still short of the required quorum for prayer. They are forbidden to utter a single word of the communal prayers. All of a sudden some totally insignificant man comes in from the streets. Whoever he may be, he is joined to them. They are ten. Now they can recite Kedusha, the Sanctification. No sooner than they are finished, this same individual makes his escape and goes back to the streets. But the Words of Holiness which were uttered before can now never be erased. What joy they have brought to the Holy One, blessed be He! (From "Laws of the Evening Prayer" 4:34)

May HaShem grant us all a Ketivah VeChatima Tova!

Not Everyone is Included in the Four Species

From The Writings of Rav Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane in honor of Sukkot Organs of power at home joining the side of our enemy requires us t...