• Maverick (Avigdor) Peters

Rosh Hashanah 2018: Your Last Chance

Well, we made it! If you’re reading this on Rosh Hashanah or right afterwards, then you’ve made it through yet another year of life!!! Congratulations!!

The year is approaching its final moments. Everyone has had their fair share of ups and downs, victories and defeats. We’ve accomplished and achieved and undoubtedly, we have slipped up and fallen short here and there.

The sages teach us, “Everything goes according to the end.” We’ve had this whole month of Elul to reflect on our past year. The last week was particularly important as we were supposed to spend extra effort on preparation for the high holidays. Each day we had yet another chance to correct and rectify ALL of our misdeeds from the year. Now here we are, in our finest clothing standing in shul with our machzor all dusted off and ready to go.

The very last thing we are going to do this year is not eat lunch, shower, or drive to shul. The very last thing we will do is daven (pray). What is the last prayer of the entire year? The mincha (afternoon) service. A very short fifteen minute service.

In this mincha service, we say the Shemonah Esrei (silent amida) a sequence of important and powerful tefillos that are a substantial and fundamental part of our everyday prayers. In these prayers is the tefillah of “Bareich Aleinu” in which we ask Hashem to bless us with prosperity. We say, “Bless on our behalf, O Hashem, our G-d, this year...bless our year like the best years.”

It seems rather puzzling! Why would be be davening to Hashem, asking Him for a successful year with only TEN MINUTES left to the whole year?!

The answer is quite simple, though. We have the opportunity with the very last prayer service of the entire calendar year to daven for the success of that year. Meaning, even if we messed up this past year, and did not reflect in Elul, or prepare the last week, and all of today, we still have one last chance, one last ditch effort to rectify our misdeeds. Hashem loves us so much that we have until the last minute to do teshuva (repentance) and connect with Him.

Unfortunately, some may rush through this mincha amidst the hustle and bustle of the Yom Tov preparations and the anticipation of the Day of Judgement that is about to begin. They won’t even realize the opportunity that lies before them! However, that’s not you and I, let’s not be the one making that mistake!

Today, when you get to shul and find your seat, STOP! Collect yourself and acknowledge that these are THE LAST PRAYERS OF THE YEAR! What you can accomplish with these tefillos are INCREDIBLE! Give Hashem everything you got! Don’t pass up this opportunity. It's truly an amazing gift...and then Elul and the year are over.

The high holidays are a propitious time because with the proper conduct we can grow immensely.

Rosh Hashanah is a time when we declare Hashem’s sovereignty over all of creation and accept Him as our King. We pass before Him to be judged for our previous year. All our deeds are weighed and He will decide what our upcoming year will be like. Everything is decided on Rosh Hashanah. We have the power to tilt the scales in our favor with proper prayer and observance this holiday season.

May we have a meaningful Yom Tov and let the awe of the day inspire us to grow as Jews and take full advantage of our opportunities this year! May we all merit to be inscribed and sealed in the book of life and all that is good. May our year be filled with Torah and mitzvos and bring nachas to Hashem, our King! -Amen!

A gut g’bentched yor! K’siva V’chasima Tova!

Have a wonderful and meaningful Yom Tov!

Maverick V. Peters

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