Rosh Hashanah

Selichot: Preparing for Rosh Hashanah – Don’t Wait Until it’s Too Late!

Two hundred years ago there was an uprising. Eventually, the Czar had enough and he sent out his men to put an end to the revolt once and for all. The decree was simple, everyone involved should be put to death, but, the leaders should be captured and brought to the Czar. They would receive the honor of a personal beheading by the Czar himself in front of the masses!

Within a few short days, the revolt was crushed, and the leaders brought to the Czar. The Czar was in for a shock, as one of the leaders of the revolt was none other than his very own son. Left with no choice he decided he would have to make a lesson out of his own child. He could not bear to be the one to personally do the gruesome deed, so he allowed it to be done without his personal involvement.

The fateful day came and they ask the son if he had any last requests. “Yes, I would like my father to present at the beheading”, responded the child. Of course, the last request was granted, and the Czar himself came to view the terrible spectacle of the beheading of his own son. As the Czar walked in, the child got down on his hands and knees and begged to be pardoned. His father was ready for such a request and without allowing the penetrating words of his son to enter his heart, he turned away and barked, “Off with his head”. Now, everyone would learn the lesson once and for all not to start with the Czar!

He was put on the killing block, and the murderer began the countdown.

– 10 – 9 – 8 – 7 …

Time quickly passes and before we know it, we will be standing at the final moments, as the book is closed. To wait until the last moment is a risky endeavor, and therefore we have to start preparing. Before long it will be too late, we have to start preparing now! With the start of Selichos we have to change gears, we have to enter into Rosh HaShanah mode, a more real life, a world in which our actions matter.

– 6 – 5 – 4 – 3 –

“Long live the Czar” the boy finally yelled! Immediately, the Czar turned around, “Stop – Pardoned!”. The boy was removed from the killing block at the last moment, and his life saved.

When there is nowhere else to turn, as the clock runs out, there is always this ‘simple approach’. It is almost guaranteed, a ‘secret door’ of sorts.
Hashem Hu Elokim!

With the countdown running out, we can always declare His Supreme Reign. Maharal explains that with the simple declaration to be better, to do His will and be faithful children, the Book of Life will be sealed. One moment of Hirhur Teshuvah (a thought of repentance) and we will be saved. It might not be the most optimal of paths, but in the eleventh hour there is no choice.

What if we cannot get the words out of our mouth? What if we wait too long and we miss the moment? The stakes are too high, and to procrastinate is too dangerous. We must begin now so that we can be allowed back through the front door of the Palace! 

Based on a lecture by Rabbi Shraga Kallus Shlita

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