A Special Tefillah for Yom Hadin
By Rabbi Chaim Yisroel Blumenfeld, Yeshiva Neveh Zion, Israel
23 Elul 5721
The following contains contemporary thoughts on the very special tefilla, Shemona Esrei for Rosh Hashana. I have worked on a draft that I wrote in other years and I want to share these insights with you.
Instill Your awe upon all Your works, Your fear and respect on all You have created.
If we would be aware of the purpose of life at all times, our lives would be different. But so often we are distracted from life’s purpose. Distraction is no longer time off. It has become a way of life. Technology is burying ourselves and our youth. Ipods, Ipads, game stations and DVDs are destroying our ability to think. We can be so busy today; there is no time to think. We forget that we should be doing something with our lives. To quote our Rabbi Klugman, "The internet supplies us with so little about so much that we find ourselves knowing everything about nothing."
Let all works revere You and all Your creatures prostrate themselves before You.
Please Hashem, give us the strength to be humble before you. We live in a society where so many of us shop around for lenient halachas and we try to manipulate the Torah to our whims, making permissible all that we desire. Let us appreciate that we must make man in the image of G-d and not try to make G-d in the image of man.
Let us become a single society united together…aguda achas.
With our Blackberries and SMS’s, we can send message to anyone, anytime – but is there any real communication? Talmidim this year don’t bother to call their parents, they just text them. Even if we wanted to write a letter, we have forgotten how. Facebook is harming our ability to make deep relationships. Everything is superficial. Emerson said in the 1800’s that "soon we’d be able to speak from the East Coast to the West Coast, but will we have anything worthwhile to say."
To do Your will whole heartedly.
Enough with lip service. I want to be real. I don’t want to do what I feel like doing and then deceive myself that it is Your will. Give me the insight to know what really is Your will (ratzon) and the courage to do it.
Give honor to Your people.
We learn to be once more known as "The People of the Book" and not chas v"shalom the entrepreneurs that will cheat and deceive, and get the better of you in any deal.
Praise to those who revere You.
Help us accept the Gedolim as our leaders. Help us perceive that greatness in Torah and Yiras Shamayim affords insight into every aspect of life. Let us have the courage to mould our lives and lifestyle according to their guidance.
And good hope to those who seek You.
It is so hard today, even for those who want to learn and observe. We have never had a generation with so many temptations. We have never been so exposed to promiscuity and corruption. We have to do teshuva for every time we walk the streets of Manhattan. Help us believe in ourselves and our ability to overcome these challenges.
Open the mouths of those who yearn for You.
It is hard to daven the beautiful and majestic piyutim and tefillahs of Rosh Hashana. We are not familiar with the words. Open our hearts that we may be inspired and daven with meaning and coronate You as our King.
Happiness to Your land and joy to Your city.
May we be worthy of coming to live in Eretz Yisrael and may those of us who do live here, appreciate the gift we have of living in Your holy land. Instill in our hearts a love of its rocks and soil, its hills and valleys. Return to Zion and rebuild the Beis Hamikdash so that we can experience the real happiness and joy of Yerushalayim and Eretz Yisrael. Protect the yishuv, those living in the Land, from the enemies that surround us.
Then, You Hashem will reign alone.
We put our trust in our own strength and the liberal dream and it brought us neither happiness nor peace of mind. We put our trust in the almighty dollar and it has fallen. We put our trust in the economy and it’s in trouble. We have reached that which the Mishnah in Sotah declares is the prerequisite for Moshiach and Geula. "We have nothing on which to lean or rely, besides our Father in Shomayim." But we don’t have strength of previous generations and our enemies become stronger each day.
Please Hashem, say "enough" to the travail and sorrows of Klal Yisrael and bring us a year of health, happiness, spiritual growth and most important, a year of Geula. We probably have more reason to cry this year than any year since 1939 and we will during Selichos, but during Rosh Hashana we will accept Your Malchus, Your coronation in simcha and trust that Klal Yisrael will be redeemed in Your mercy!
L’Shana Tova Tikasev v’Tichasem.
Mash and the Neveh Family