Sunday, 26 February 2012

Yom Kippur's Over - Now What?

by Duvid Chaim (See all authors)

Chevra, How many of you are asking yourself this question?

After all, we just completed 40 Days of Teshuva; first kicking off the process of "return" at the beginning of Elul, followed by the humbling experience of Coronating the King at Rosh Hashana, and then wrapping up the "10 Days" with Yom Kippur - achieving levels of praying, crying, fasting and personal introspection like no other time of the year. If there's any time of the year that we're going to "feel like an Angel" then it's now.

But if you're like me, your asking yourself, "How am I going to stay on this lofty level now that Yom Kippur is over? Can I just head back into my day to day routines, whether at work, at home or in my community and not expect to be confronted with my "struggles"? Certainly, they'll be people out there or situations that arise that upset me or make me worried. Or maybe I'll catch a glimpse of something attractive on the street, on the internet or out there that will be like a "tractor beam" - and I'll be sucked into this pit of the old familiar way of behaving".

"Who am I fooling after all? Yes, I wore white all Yom Kippur and I overcame my thirst and hunger and I told G-d that I regret my sins and told Him that I didn't want to do them again. But how can I expect G-d to believe me if I don't even believe myself???"

The answer to this dilemma came to me totally out of the blue in one of my A&W moments ("Awe & Wonder moments" are moments where we try to see Hashem in our life), first thing this morning, when I was quietly learning by myself in the Beis Medrash and suddenly in walks a man who rarely davens by my Shul. And since he is also a doctor, I don't think I've ever seen him come sit and learn in the morning.

But I could tell he wanted to share something with me when he approached and said he wanted to show me what he had just read in Ramchal's Mesillas Yesharim on the second page of the chapter on "Watchfulness". The Ramchal points out that one of the Yetzer Hara's most clever weapons against us is to keep us too busy. That's it, and it's that simple! The Ramchal quotes Shmos 5:9 where Pharoah said, "Intensify the men's labors"... His intention was not to merely deprive them of all leisure so that they wouldn't oppose him, but he strove to strip their hearts..."

The Ramchal is teaching us that the way that the Yetzer knocks us off our lofty platform; especially after a Yom Kippur, is to push us right back in the "real world" with all of its pressures and demands. The phone is ringing, the mail needs to be opened, the emails are piling up - everyone needs our attention and they need it now. It's no wonder we fall so quickly from our angelic high! Who's got time to think about how far we've come in the past 40 days? Who's got time to daven the first Shachris on Tuesday at a pace that we enjoyed just the day before? Who's got time to feel today? I'M TOO BUSY TO FEEL. Leave me alone so I can fix the World - after all, it can't survive without me!

And there it is - THE TRAP - Just stay busy!

You can imagine how fortunate I felt getting this message from someone who is practically a stranger and at such an appropriate time. It didn't come to me for no reason.

So, Chevra, my goal is to know my enemy - the Yetzer Hara - and not let him trap me in his web - to not let him break my Connection with Hashem - to not let him bury myself underneath layers and layers of daily pressures. Instead, I'm going to outsmart him by simply Pausing, yes just pausing as often as possible today, to look around and appreciate the wonders of the world and of my unique and special life. I'm going to just appreciate all of my blessings; health, livelihood, family and Torah. And by pausing, I'm going to feel... and I'm going to stay connected... connected to family, friends, and most importantly to the Source of all Good.

And now I know what to do after Yom Kippur.

Shana Tova,

Duvid Chaim