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Calendar

The Systems of the Jewish Year

Nearing The End

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

Here we are getting ready to usher in the last month of the year. 

There is a vast amount of discussion and literature on how to start off the year and very little about how to end it. Even the last month of the year Elul, has been marketed as the preparation for the beginning of the fresh start and not the end of what we have been living with for 11 months.

Chazal attach great importance to the end. How we present at the end of the year represents the culmination of our year. The last Shabbos indicates the way I have experienced every Shabbos in the past year. The last Sunday or Monday, the last prayer, the last thank you to G-d all present the sum total of what I have accomplished and more important – what I actually have become as the year comes to a close. We all have our ups and downs but we are judged by what we have become. 

The Gemorah at the end of Meggila discusses at length how the weekly Torah portion and the Haftaros are placed on the calendar. The Psikta teaches that there is an important order for the Haftoras. The order begins on he 17th of Tamuz. For three weeks we read about tragedy, shalosh d’puransa, then seven weeks of comfort, sheva d’nechamah, and finally two weeks of Teshuvah, tartei l’tiyuvta. This order is extremely important and is not interrupted for any reason.

The order of the calendar is a bit counter intuitive. What would seem to make more sense is that after the “Three Weeks” of punishment and suffering we should do Teshuva. We should immediately read the Haftorahs referring to Teshuvah. Once we do Teshuva it then makes sense that G-d will comfort us more than double are pain. Without Teshuvah why is G-d comforting us when we have still not changed our ways?

From the order of the calander we see can an insight about the way of G-d and perhaps even more importantly into the depth of human nature. .

The path to repentance, to Teshuvah, is not pain and suffering but comfort. Pain alone does not bring about a response of Teshuvah. Teshuvah is to stand before G-d, to make Him central in our lives and in our thoughts and to return to a relationship with Him. Even more than we need to know the consequences of our actions we need to have validation of our relationship.  The intention is not to be frightened into Teshuvah but to be inspired into a healthy, positive and mature relationship with the Creator.

The order is clear; we have done wrong in this world and have created negativity and destuction. God comforts, He tells us how valuable we are, how much He loves us. When we realize our importance and the depth of our relationship indeed we repent and start off the neew year with a sense of freshness, vibrancy and love.

Mazal Tov to my children Rabbi Sender and Chamie Haber on the birth of their new son, Akiva Meir and Rabbi Sender’s appointment to the position of Rabbi of Bnei Yisroel Synagogue in Norfolk VA.

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