Pondering Past and Facing Future
As Jews mark the last Shabbat of the year 5768 it is a time for pondering the past and facing the future.
"You stand this day before the L-rd your G-d" begins this week's Torah portion, which follows the preceding week's awesome warning of 98 curses that will befall those who abandon the Torah. The stress on "day", say our Sages, is to serve as a comfort to the nation struck with fear as a result of those warnings. "Just as the day has its dark period and then there is light, so too will you enjoy light after darkness, for the curses and suffering preserve you and enable you to stand before Him."
All suffering that Jews in Israel and elsewhere have endured during the past year and all past years serves a double purpose. It atones for the sins of the past and deters them from sinning in the future.
This is a message of both comfort and challenge. It is our prayer that we be blessed with the ability to appreciate the suffering of the past and to learn their lesson for the future.
"May the old year with its curses come to an end; let the new year with its blessings begin!"