Ezer Mizion Canada

Among My People

As always, the days of Rosh Hashanah immerse us in a unique atmosphere, a strange blend of holiday joy and fear of judgment at one and the same time. On the one hand, “Who will be found righteous before You in judgment,” yet on the other hand, the prophet encourages us, “Eat rich foods and drink sweet beverages… for the joy of Hashem is your fortress” (Nechemiah 8:10).pr Chananya Chollak
Chazal pointed out this apparent contradiction: “On the day when the Books of Life and Books of the Dead are opened up – how can we sing?” That is why we do not say Hallel on Rosh Hashanah. And yet, it is a Yom Tov in every other way; it is a mitzvah to rejoice, to eat and drink, and to wear Yom Tov clothing.
Chazal provide one answer to this duality, to these two apparently conflicting principles, when they explain that on Rosh Hashanah, the day the world was created, mankind faces two judgments: a general one and an individual one. In the general judgment, the Creator judges the nation as a whole – and every year anew, He chooses the Jewish people, His chosen portion, for as we know, “Hashem will not abandon His people” (Tehillim 94:14). To this judgment, the Jewish people comes in festive garb, secure in the knowledge that in spite of everything, in the end, Hashem will be compassionate and sweeten the judgment.
The second judgment takes place on the personal plane. Here, every human being passes before his Creator like sheep, like a flock being checked by the shepherd, and the final decision is what will determine the future of each and every one of us: Who will be decreed life, and who, chalilah, death, who will have health, and who, sickness, who will be humbled and who will be raised up. This is the judgment that we fear, and it is in preparation for that judgment that we search feverishly for special merits, for “Who will be found righteous before You in judgment.”
The Chofetz Chaim explains that in practice, every person determines his own ruling in the Divine Court. Each individual’s judgment is a direct outgrowth of the way he judges others. How so? Many people have a tendency to criticize society and its members. These people have a habit of critically sizing up every act done by another, and at times even derive pleasure from this practice. The Chofetz Chaim says that Hashem dons the “eyeglasses” of the person who stands before him to be judged. If that person is accustomed to looking through a lens of positivity and habitually judges his fellow man’s deeds favorably, the Divine Judge will judge his deeds favorably as well. But if the person on trial is one who always finds something negative in his fellow man, who always focuses on the flaws in his deeds, then it will be difficult for Hashem, looking through those same lenses, to see glimmers of light in that person’s own deeds.
One of the women who judged the Jewish people favorably was the Shunamite woman (Melachim II, 4). According to the Zohar Hakadosh, it was on Rosh Hashanah (“It happened one day”) that the prophet Elisha, who wanted to repay her for her generous hospitality to him, expressed his desire to mention her special merits to the King of the universe – yet she declined his offer. “I live among my people,” she said. She did not seek “protektzia,” did not want personal favors. She relied on the Klal, on the community of which she was a part. The Shunamite woman knew very well that as great as a person may be, no one is so perfectly righteous that he does only good and never transgresses. Yet, she judged Klal Yisrael favorably, secure in the knowledge that the Klal will emerge from the judgment exonerated, and she among them.
When we “permit the congregation to pray together with the sinners” in the Kol Nidrei prayer, it is not because the sinners need our “entrance pass.” The opposite is true: For our sake, we need our prayer to include everyone and become a prayer of the entire tzibbur. A tzibbur includes the righteous, the wicked, and those in between. As we say in the tefillah, “B’fi yesharim… – By the mouth of the upright, by the lips of the righteous, by the tongue of the pious, and in the midst of the holy – and yet, there is a fifth level, higher than all these – and that is “the mouths of your entire nation, the house of Yisrael.”
This is our message for the length of the entire year. Ezer Mizion does not distinguish between those who need its services. Ezer Mizion unites “your entire nation, the house of Yisrael,” with all its tribes and sectors and ethnic backgrounds. Every day of the year, Ezer Mizion’s volunteers and supporters try to help every single Jew in distress and in the throes of illness, with a depth of understanding and faith that this is our greatest merit: to feel the pain and troubles of every Jew and do whatever possible to help him and his family in their time of crisis. We call upon Klal Yisrael to become our partners, to give a hand, to volunteer, and to donate, to unite worlds and save lives. And with this, may it be Hashem’s will that we all merit a ketivah v’chatimah tovah.

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