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Shabbat Parashat Nitzavim 5772

Parashat Hashavua: The Freedom of Divine Dominion

Harav Shaul Yisraeli based on Siach Shaul (Yamim Noraim), pg. 106-7

One of the central prayers on Rosh Hashana is “rule over the entire world…” At first glance, why do we pray and have such longings for a situation wherein there is dominion upon us? Aren’t we better off without the extra yoke? Isn’t freedom one of the most pleasant and even uplifting feelings that exist?

The answer is apparently included in the following statement of Chazal: “Do not read the pasuk as saying [that the writing of the Ten Commandments is] charut (engraved) on the tablets, but rather that there is cheirut (freedom) on the tablets, for the only one who is free is one who is involved in Torah study” (Bamidbar Rabba 10:8). The question is still how it can be that accepting the yoke of Heavenly Kingdom and realizing that Hashem knows all and forgets nothing creates freedom for a person.

We know that fixing that which is wrong about us and regretting sins that we have committed is called teshuva. [We translate the word as repentance, but] the word literally means return. To where are we returning?

As Shlomo Hamelech said (see Kohelet 7:29), the Creator made man straight, which is so because Hashem is righteous and straight. The entire creation is divine kindness, and all comes from Him. Hashem is the essence of good, and when we achieve a palpable kingdom of Hashem upon Earth, we receive the dominion of good. Accepting the yoke of the Heavenly Kingdom means that we are overcoming the powers that oppose good. It is an attempt to purge the world of evil. This is actually what we say in prayers: “… and all the evil will cease like a cloud, as You will remove the evil kingdom from the land.”

We must start purging the world of evil by starting within ourselves, where opposing forces battle for control. While Hashem made us straight, there are also forces that raise difficulties in keeping us so. Chazal have taught us that the point of these forces is not to overcome us. Rather, they exist so that we can take part in creation by creating ourselves in our complete form and thereby creating a better world.

How do we accomplish this lofty goal? “A person’s evil inclination gets stronger and stronger all day long, and were Hashem not to help us, we could not overcome it” (Sukka 52b). By declaring Hashem king, we form a connection with Him whereby He will help us; that is part and parcel of our request for help. By succeeding with Hashem’s help in the teshuva process, we are able to return to our natural status, as we are naturally truthful and straight.

What is a world without belief in a Creator? We saw the answer when human beings acted like the most brutal beasts during the Nazi period. What is a world without belief in a Creator? We see it in the monster known as the Soviet regime. What is a world without belief in a Creator? We can see it in the actions of corruption, murder, etc. that have spread throughout modern society.

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Dedication

This edition of
Hemdat Yamim

is dedicated
 to the memory of
R' Meir
 ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld

o.b.m

 

Hemdat Yamim

is endowed by

Les & Ethel Sutker

of Chicago, Illinois
in loving memory of
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Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l

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