Climbing the Mountain

Elul 8, 5783
August 25, 2023
Candlelighting Time 7:24 PM

            In our culture, summer overtakes our senses and we feel free and unrestricted. Certainly, we attend shul daily, have our regular classes in various topics of Torah, enjoy Shabbos meals combined with summer activities. The pressure of serving Hashem as we do the rest of the year is lessened and we spend a lot of time just relaxing. Then we hear the shofar at the beginning of Elul and all of a sudden our senses sharpen and start to clear the fog and haze that may have collected during the summer and realize that in a few short weeks we will be standing in front of Hashem for our yearly judgement. The consequences of that judgement, Rosh Hashanah, can be devastating. We are all aware of those who were with us last year but alas are no longer part of our camaraderie. On the one hand, we feel the pressure exerted upon us by virtue of the calendar schedule, yet it is a difficult proposition to hoist ourselves out of the pit of laziness and lack of attention to important details in life that we may have become accustomed to. Add to that the fact that our society has become extremely hedonistic and the pursuit of instant gratification is part and parcel of how our culture functions on a daily basis and we have a recipe for sluggishness and indolence. The shofar is beckoning us to wake up and get ready and the atmosphere around us is encouraging us to ignore that call. We are caught in a crossfire of immense proportions and we truly need to find a path that will secure us for the future. 

            Delving into the Torah is a surefire way to resolve difficulties. This week’s parsha is no exception. Although on the surface there seems to be a war with captives and the temptation to take one of them as a wife, Ohr HaChaim explains that under the surface another war is being fought. This is the daily war that we wage with the Yetzer Hora, the evil inclination. Our Sages describe ‘him’ as guile, well trained, a veteran, strategist with multiple approaches to defeat the enemy, us and in general a gargantuan foe. What is our weaponry that we can use to combat such a powerful adversary?

            We are advised to capture that enemy and bring it into our home and destroy its beauty. In other words, when we focus upon our gift from Hashem, the pure and unadulterated soul that we are imbued with, then we have found the armament that we can battle with. For it is only our preoccupation with our bodily needs and expectations that gives our enemy the power to defeat us. We need to look deeply into our very essence and view that wonderful vista that lies within us, that we were created in the image of Hashem and therefore our project in life is to uplift and enhance that which we are really made out of. 

            The shofar is the inner cry of our soul despondent that we may abandoned it during the long hot summer months and it is longing and craving for us to reconnect with it and bring it back into full swing. Yes it is a process and it doesn’t happen overnight but if we take the steps now at the onset  of the month of Elul when we can start to reenergize, then when Rosh Hashanah arrives we will be ready and primed to approach the King’s throne and beg for another year of good health, prosperity and nachas from our families.


When a person is accustomed to help others that they should not suffer whether it involves a financial loss or on the spiritual plane, then that person is primed to indeed assist others.