Thursday, September 25, 2008

Rosh HaShanna - Discovering your unique Avodas HaShem

Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz (Sichos Musar #33 5731): Everyone is required to thoroughly examine his deeds especially before Rosh HaShanna - the Day of Judgment. This obligation is not just to discover transgressions and lapses in observance of the commands. It also includes the evaluation whether one's path in serving G‑d is the correct one for him since everyone has a unique path. The issue  of Avodas HaShem is such that a person could keep all the mitzvos yet have a completely false approach to serving G-d. The problem is compounded by the fact that he might have incorrectly assumed that what he was doing would be pleasing to G‑d. Nevertheless all his efforts would have been to accomplish a mistaken goal. Consequently if he has not carefully evaluated the correctness of his plan then all his efforts and sacrifices are wasted. Furthermore he is punished according to the degree of effort he made to accomplish this wrong plan. This can be seen from the fact that Rav Yochanon ben Zakkai who was not only the leading Torah scholar of his time but also had succeeded in saving Torah for all future generations was frightened before his death. He cried before his students and said "I see before me two paths - one to Gan Eden and the other to Gehinom and I don't know where they are taking me. Shouldn't I cry?" His fear was not because of failing to keep the whole Torah. His fear was solely because he might have failed to properly have done his Avodas HaShem. There is the additional problem with Avodas HaShem - that one simply can't repent for doing it incorrectly since it is easy to be mistaken and assume that you are doing the right thing.

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