You Are Standing today (Devarim 29:9)
Chazal ask why is it necessary to mention the obvious that “you are standing here today…”? They answer that being that Klal Yisrael just heard the awesome responsibility of their obligation to keep the mitzvos, Moshe Rabbeinu pointed out “Don’t worry! You are doing fine and you will be able to continue to overcome this challenge!”
We stand today just a short time before Rosh Hashanah and realize the enormity of our task. We sometimes are frozen in panic, not knowing where to start, or we feel that it is futile to even begin because we are afraid that will not succeed. What is the key in the message of “atem nitzavim”? How do we actually overcome this fright?
We have been saying tehillim perek 27 “l’Dovid Hashem ori” for almost a month. At the end of this perek, we say “lulei hemanti btuv Hashem” The mefarshim point out that the word “lulei” is Elul spelled backwards (לוּלֵא = אֶלוּל). The pasuk is telling us that if we can believe in the power of Elul, we can withstand the Yom Hadin and come out victorious. Why? The reason is “he’emanti” – because we believe that we will be successful.
But it seems to me that this is circular logic. We believe it will be successful because…we believe it will be successful! How do we get to believe that we are going to be successful without doing anything? I think the answer lies in our emunah: “lulei he’emanti b’tuv Hashem” – would it not be that I had trust in G-d. We believe that HaKadosh Baruch Hu put us in a situation in which we can be successful. What we need to do is extend our hand to Him and let us be motivated due to the firm grip He has on us. This is similar to a young boy taking a hike with his father in a mountainous terrain. He stands at the base of the mountain and looks at the daunting venture to the summit and asks his father “How are we going to do this?” His father responds “Just hold my hand!” The child grasps his father’s hands believing that his father is invincible – as all boys do – and his fear melts and he enjoys the vigorous activity which brings out the best in him and succeeds to climb the mountain.
So too, after almost a month of saying “l’Dovid Hashem”, and experiencing Hashem’s loving grip, we can feel the confidence that we will succeed. However, just as the young boy holding tightly to his father’s hand is not enough – he also had to use his legs to climb the mountain – we too must work hard on ourselves.
How? By paying attention to every step that we take, for just as each step of the climber can either bring him closer to his goal of reaching the summit, or might cause him to stumble and fall into an abyss, so too our limited time given to use is also double-edged. We can use our time to do chesed; daven; learn; and bring us closer to Hashem, or perhaps we will misuse these opportunities, which will result in us falling behind, losing our grip and having to wait until help arrives.
Our father -whether the biological father who takes us on the trip on the mountain or our Father in Heaven – believes in us, and knows that we can succeed!
When we grip onto Hashem or His Torah and allow Him to lead us in the direction that is most appropriate for us, we are confident that He will lead us to a beautiful and invigorating new year.