Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Erev Rosh Hashanah of 5771

29 Elul 5770/ /September 8, 2010

A number of years ago someone asked our (then) four year old son Shalom if he would be going to shul on Rosh Hashanah. At first Shalom replied that he was not, but when Chani reassured him that he was indeed going to be coming to shul, he looked up at her and asked in all sincerity, “Oh, so will we be bringing our scales to shul so that we can weigh our mitzvos and aveiros?”

Shalom had learned that on Rosh Hashanah our mitzvos and aveiros are weighed on scales, so he surmised that we ourselves must do the weighing. While it is an interesting thought, we are all aware that in heaven that is precisely what is transpiring.

Still, it seems that there is a ‘weighing in’ that we must do for ourselves during these days.

It’s been said that our society has a definition and game plan for ‘success’ only until one is 50 years old. Our society espouses that all that glitters is gold, and if one can achieve a position which earns him prestige, money, a beautiful home, a fancy car, and exotic vacations than he has ‘made it’. But what about after 50? Our society has no game plan for after that. Is there any value in living past 50 when one is no longer as youthful and vibrant as he/she once was?

The Torah has a far different value system. One’s value is determined based on wisdom and experience, rendering our elders our most valuable asset. Success is measured based on acquisition of wisdom and the extent of one’s character refinement.

The glorious days of penitence afford us the opportunity and responsibility to weigh in and contemplate whether we are living successful lives – as the Torah defines it.

Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg zt’l noted that there is an important difference between ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ and ‘Rosh Hashanah Commitments’ (kabbalos). New Year’s Resolutions are things one accepts to do to help him feel better about himself, while Rosh Hashanah commitments are things one accepts to do in order to bring himself closer to G-d.

In a sense, New Year’s Resolutions help us be successful according to society’s definition of success, while Rosh Hashanah Commitments help us achieve success as the Torah defines it.

So perhaps we won’t be bringing our scales to shul on Rosh Hashanah to weigh our merits and sins. But we should still make sure that we do some personal weighing in to ensure that we are en route to achieving ultimate success.

Kesiva Vachasima Tova & Shana Tova Umesuka,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum