Yom Kippur

Rabbi Shteinman: “How to Choose a Suitable Resolution”

1. How to choose a suitable resolution? Rabbi Shteinman explains that first of all you must focus on “leaving evil” before focusing on “doing good.” This means in choosing your yearly resolution you should focus on stopping to sin and only afterwards to resolve and strengthen doing the mitzvot.

2. Watching your speech is a worthy resolution to consider: Rabbi Shteinman advises making your resolution in the realm of speech. He told one of his students: “the main part of resolution should pertain to speech, like not saying lashon hara or to stop making fun of others or flattery. Whoever is careful with his speech can reach very high levels.”    

3. G-d judges us according to our present situation: ‘Another one of G-d’s endless kindnesses with us is that when a person accepts something upon himself to improve he shows that he desires to improve his deeds. G-d than judges him according to his present situation, as G-d did with Yishmael ‘as he was’.   

4. G-d values every effort made to overcome the evil inclination:  “Though a man must fight to keep his resolutions for the whole year, but even if they last just a bit after Yom Kippur like if he resolved not to speak lashon hara and it lasted a half hour, that is still a big thing. For the evil inclination tries overcoming man every day and wants to kill him and man himself doesn’t have the strength to fight him. So every effort to fight the evil inclination is important in G-d’s eyes.”

5. A resolution for a few hours a day: A group of students approached Rabbi Shteinman asking for advice on what resolutions to make and he responded: “Everyone should accept upon himself not to answer in kind if someone embarrasses him during the morning hours until lunchtime.” We can see from this how important it is not to respond to embarrassment and shaming.

6. Concentrate on the first blessing in Shemona Esrei: One year Rabbi Shteinman urged his students to accept upon themselves to concentrate on the first blessing of the Shemona Esrei. 

7. Stop doing forbidden labors a half hour before sunset: Rabbi Shteinman recommended this resolution many times: “To accept upon himself that he stop doing any labor forbidden on Shabbat a half hour before sunset. This will prevent stumbling on transgressions and he will feel Shabbat more”. The emphasis is only to stop labor but necessarily to accept the Shabbat early in case you need to do something urgent before Shabbat.

8. How do you keep the elevated feeling of Yom Kippur going afterwards? When asking this question Rabbi Shteinman said: “If you place G-d before you always everything will be okay.”

9. Learn ‘Mussar’ (character development) and make a daily accounting of your deeds:  “to keep the feeling of Yom Kippur, learn Mussar or at least once a day give a spiritual accounting.”

10. Concentrate on one thing that includes everything:  A different time Rabbi Shteinman answered: “Concentrate on one thing that includes everything… look in the Orchot Chaim (a small booklet of character development and strengthening mitzvah observance from the Rosh).”  He said “If a person gets up in the morning and commits himself to Torah in a manner that he pays no attention to anything else, then all things that detract from his Torah learning will fall away and he will succeed in his learning. The beginning of the day is what counts and indeed the Torah commands us to accept the yoke of heaven twice a day so through that he will have a foundation for the duration of the day. Get a good start and then you can hope for success.”     

11. Make the resolution wholeheartedly:  Rabbi Shteinman once said: The question isn’t ‘what to strengthen‘, anything you choose will be beneficial on the condition you accept a real resolution upon yourself wholeheartedly.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                           


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