erev 16 Elul 5779
the Path of Life
by Tzvi Schnee
In Judaism, within the realm of orthodoxy, in particular, can be found the phrase, “off the derech,” meaning one who has strayed from the path. Yet, all may learn from the intent of the phrase, as pertaining to our own individual guidance under H’Shem’s care. Regardless of our level of religious connection to G-d, our own conscience should help to guide us on the path; in fact, in consideration of Victor Frankl’s tenet that mankind’s conscience is always connected to a Higher Source, we may acknowledge in deference to this perspective, our soul’s connection to G-d.
During the month of Elul, on the Hebrew calendar, the King is in the field. Ordinarily a king would be inaccessible to the common person, because he would be confined to his palace; when he enters the field, he is more readily able to be approached. The King in this mashal (parable) is H’Shem (G-d); our opportunity to connect with Him through teshuvah (repentance) is greater during the month of Elul.
In preparation for Rosh HaShannah, we are called upon to examine our conscience, by way of heshbon hanefesh – making an account of our soul. By judging ourselves through a thorough reflection upon our character, we may ask G-d to help us change for the better; this is most certainly efficacious to enact before Rosh HaShannah, also known as Yom HaDin (the Day of Judgment). May we all look forward to bettering our lives by rooting out our aveiros (sins), so that we may be judged favorably for the New Year. Additionally, may we commit to serving G-d anew in our lives, with enthusaism and sincerity in meaningful ways. May we all be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life.