27 Tishri 5779 – Bereishit

I have mixed emotions.

On the one hand, all the holidays are over and I can breathe a little easier. On the other, I already miss the hype, joy and ecstasy that comes from seeing so many people in Shul, celebrating, together, our meaningful Chagim. And it’s only been two days since the end of the festivities (Simchat Torah)!

I say a huge thank you to everyone who contributed to making our services so meaningful and special from our dedicated office team, to our Shul board, to our Chazanim and volunteers, to our CSG members. I also extend a huge Mazal tov to our Chatan Torah and Chatan Bereshit, Evan Koseff and Anthony Perl who received truly appropriate honours over Simchat Torah in recognition of all the work that they put in. As we say every Shabbat: “Hakadosh Baruch hu yeshalem secharam”, may Hashem repay them their ample reward.

This week is Shabbat Bereshit and we look forward to celebrating with Lani and Gary Kaye their son, Jed’s, Bar Mitzvah. This is the first Shabbat of the year and as they say: It all goes after the beginning. The way we begin a year determines the path for the rest of the year. I am reminded of the message that I shared with you on the first night of Rosh Hashana.

When the Torah describes the Land of Israel (Devarim 11:12), it states : “A Land that G-d seeks out. The eyes of G-d are always upon it, from the beginning of the year till the end of a year” (m’rashis hashanah v’ad acharis shanah).

Did you notice the apparent grammatical flaw? The verse speaks of “the beginning of the year till the end of a year.” That is strange. Either the Torah should have said, “From the beginning of the year till the end of the year,” or conversely: “From the beginning of a year till the end of a year?”

The answer is this:

Commonly, people approach the start of a year with a powerful resolve that they will improve themselves, they will mend mistakes, and elevate their lifestyle. They tell themselves that this is going to be the year of their life!

But as time winds on, as habit and routine take over, our resolve weakens and we slide back to our old patterns. By the time the year is over it is “acharis shanah,” just the end of another year.

The Torah is trying to warn us concerning this human tendency. We are being reminded that G-d has gifted us with 365 days – 365 unique opportunities.  We must make sure to appreciate every day and make this year not “a year,” but “The year.”

So as we settle into our mundane patterns please start implementing all those wonderful new year’s resolutions starting with this weekend in Shul!

Hope to see you there. Shabbat shalom!

Rabbi Yossi and Chana Raizel Friedman

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