Rosh Hashana & Yom Kippur

For the week ending 16 September 2017 / 25 Elul 5777

Which Way is Up?

by Rabbi Yitzchak Botton
The Color of Heaven Artscroll

Finding the Right Place

“The place where you are standing is holy.” This was said to Moshe when G-d appeared to him on Mount Sinai. This idea, in some way, applies to each one of us as well. The verse tells us (Isaiah 6:3), “The entire world is filled with G-d's glory;” and similarly the Zohar states that there is no place in the world void of G-d's presence. G-d is here, there is no question about that; the real question is: Where are we?

Going Up or Down?

Spiritually a person is sometimes drawn to be in the places that he visits. According to some commentaries, this is one of the deeper meanings why the Torah records the journeys of the Jewish People in the desert. These forty-nine journeys teach us that in every place that we find ourselves we have an opportunity to elevate ourselves, to attain a higher level of spirituality and sanctity. Through our life journeys we can either climb the forty-nine levels of holiness, or fall into the forty-nine levels of negativity and impurity. The choice is ours.

Making the Right Choice

G-d gave us free choice. We can use our time in this world to maximize our potential elevating ourselves and the world we live in through our positive actions, or we can allow our selfish and egotistical element within to lure us away from the straight path, bringing us and the world spiraling downward to destruction. If we let our jealousy, honor and desire all go unchecked, they can lead to the worst of sins, such as murder, adultery and idol worship.

Of course I don't mean bowing to stones. This is rarely done today. I mean the more subtle forms of worship we practice today, like materialism and the idolizing of the self. This destruction begins first on a personal level and ultimately progresses to a global one. This point is self evident with one look at the news headlines.

Each of us has a choice to make. Do we want to live in the world G-d created, or the one that we re-create, tailor-made to fit our wants and desires? Do we want the real truth or the illusion of truth that fits into our little box that we can take out and put away at our convenience? It is up to us to choose a life of truth — then we will be privileged to partake of this world together with its Creator.

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