Rosh Hashana 5776
The Gemara in Brachot 59a states:" Thunder was created only to straighten out the crookedness of the heart". Our Rabbis explain that Hashem wants very much that all of Bnei Yisrael should fear Him. If a person is wise, then he fears Hashem because he realizes that Hashem is All-powerful. However, this is only the wise man, who naturally has fear of Hashem.
Hashem, however, also desires that even those who are not so wise should fear Him as well. Because of this, Hashem frightens the person with something that even he, with his limited intellectual ability will be frightened. Therefore, Hashem created thunder to achieve this end- inspiring fear of Heaven - Yirat Shamayim.
It is told that when the Hafetz Haim heard thunder and saw lightening, he was overheard asking himself, "What does Father want?" Since our Rabbis have said that the only reason thunder was created was to straighten the crookedness of the heart, which crookedness did Hashem wish to straighten out this time?
Are we mindful of the Day of Judgement as of a strong wind that is forecast to come our way? Are we caught up in the motions of 'the holiday' the foods, the clothes? Have we made the time to reflect on the deeds that we did during this year, and how we can do better?
It has been discovered that we only utilize a fraction of the talents that we are blessed with from Heaven. Through sincere thought, learning and prayer during the days of Elul through Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we come to realize that we have many abilities yet untapped. We begin to understand the importance of utilizing these strengths and talents and abilities and dedicating them to our service of Hashem.
Before every deed that we perform in this world, we should ask ourselves a question: Will this sanctify Hashem's Name or not? The way to increase the utilization of our talents is in increments. Another five minutes of learning; additional money given to sedaka, and extra call each week for honoring parents; another few minutes of guarding our tongue.
In life, our capabilities are only limited by our own perception. We must broaden that perception and continue a life of upward striving. Are we doing everything that we could be doing?
Through teshuba, tefilah and sedakah, it is in our power to change decrees in heaven against our people. This Yom Kippur, Obama and the Pope are scheduled to meet. Among many topics on the agenda is Israel and the Jewish people. Let us utilize these extremely powerful days of the High Holidays and aseret yeme teshuba to pray and improve our ways to bring forth our merit in Heaven.
Dear friends, Hashem, our loving Father is calling us, dare we ignore the call? Let us all respond and return to our Father in Heaven, and may we all be inscribed for a year of peace, health and everything good.
Tizku L'Shanim Rabot,
Rabbi Isaac Farhi