Dear STOCS Friend:
In my judgment one of the saddest sentences in the Torah is found in Parshat Haazinu.
Moshe is informed by Hashem:
כִּי מִנֶּגֶד תִּרְאֶה אֶת הָאָרֶץ וְשָׁמָּה לֹא תָבוֹא אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי נֹתֵן לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל
But from a distance you shall see the Land, but you shall not enter there.
In response to Moshe’s mistake in hitting the rock rather than speaking to it to produce water, entry into Israel was denied to him. Imagine after leading the Jewish people for forty years, Moshe is refused entry into the Holy Land. His dejection is palpable. This is the simple pshat (plain meaning).
The drash explanation is directed to each and every one of us. In life there are two ways to experience shul life, from within or without. This past Rosh Hashanah we had very strong attendance with over eighty attendees each day. But what about the rest of the year? With all the goings on, classes, services, simchas etc., how many are involved? Who is watching and who is engaged. Judaism is a great deal but definitely not a spectator sport.
Yahadus is a participatory religion with rich symbols and customs that bring meaning to one’s life. The events along the way imbue our journey with spiritual significance.
During the Ten Days of Coming Closer to Hashem, let us become more involved internally with STOCS and less of an onlooker. Enter the shul often and become more involved. Almost immediately one will feel the difference of being a player rather than an observer.
I look forward to seeing you in the shul on Shabbos and Yom Kippur as well as assisting in the building of the shul’s sukkah. Additionally, please let me know I you would like to be a “greeter” on Yom Kippur.
Rabbi Evan Shore