In a world that we balance our lives between the practical accomplishments of our goals and spiritually yearning for the unreachable, Elul is a time that connects these 2 aspects of our lives, ending the year in equilibrium as we shop, prepare, run around getting ready for the yamim tovim while we simultaneously bang our hearts in selichot and directly talk to G-d. We discover a wide gate opening up for us as we enter the New Year. On either side of the great scales, having in each hand Chesed (right hand- loving-kindness) and Gevurah (left hand- judgment). The ever merciful Ein Sof provides us with never ending bounty. In gevurah it is contained. For example, a container that holds strawberry jam that you just made: without the jar, we couldn’t hold onto the jam. It would drain away. So, gevurah is actually the vessel that includes the chesed into it. It is essential in the chesed process. It puts up important boundaries, walls that preserve.
These are called the days of judgment. That is why it is exactly the time to stop and think a little about our lives and focus on Hashem’s great chesed that He does with us all the time. How can we be likened to that? Did we spend enough time, effort and patience with others? Did we define it with clear boundaries taking it thus far so that it doesn’t take away time from our family, spouse, and other important realms of our lives so that in essence it was easy to do? We love our kids but we’re not just showering them with bounty but trying to teach them the value of things by also limiting them. Chesed and gevurah aren’t like holding a daisy and picking one petal at a time, “He loves me, He loves me not.” It’s not an either- or, but a recipe for balance in life bringing us to remember the passuk from Shir Hashirim ” His right hand under my head and His left hugging me.”
The closeness of Parshat Nitzavim to Rosh Hashana reminds us as we read about standing all together before Hashem, about unity. When we stand together as one, judgment and kitrug (denouncing and defaming) cannot affect us. It’s when there is separation and fragmentation that Din comes down unto individuals. Therefore, these are exactly the days that a person should do his utmost to “fix” things, keep away from arguments and not fall into the trap of fighting back with someone looking for mischief. Life is full of these tests all the time. You have to have a lot of chesed and gevurah to deal with this.
May the New Year bring with it many blessings to you and all of Am Yisrael. May we hear only good things and try to do more good things. This goes without saying that our destinies are in His hands.
Shana Tova!!! G’mar Chatima Tova Shabbat Shalom Leah Goldsmith