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Tuesday, Tishrei 4, 5784 / September 19, 2023


As we begin the New Year, 5784, I want to take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a Shana Tova - a wonderful, joyous, healthy, sweet, and successful year in every area.


May G-d answer all our prayers with positive results. May G-d fulfill our prayer for peace in Israel and the world.  May G-d grant strength and protection to the men and women who serve in the IDF and to all who dedicate their lives to protect our Holy Land.  May G-d bless them and watch over them.  Amen.


There are ten days from the first day Rosh Hashana through Yom Kippur.  These days are called "Aseret Yemai Teshuva" - "Ten days of repentance."  Our sages tell us that on Rosh Hashana, the verdict for the New Year is written.  However, it is not sealed until the end of Yom Kippur.  Thus, even a harsh decree, G-d forbid, may still be changed between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.


In the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur prayers we recite, "Teshuva (repentance), Tefilla (prayer) and Tzedakah (charity) annul a severe decree."  During these days it is important that we perform more mitzvot, especially the mitzvah of Tzedakah - by giving more charity. By helping others, we too, will be rewarded measure for measure and granted whatever we need for the coming year.


A person who lived all his life in the big city decided one day to become a farmer.  He bought a parcel of land and went to live on the farm.  Knowing that his success depends on rain, he prayed fervently for rain.  His prayers were answered, and much rain descended on the fields.  Now he was sure that his field would yield many fruits and vegetables.  Yet, a while later when he checked his field, to his dismay, he found only weeds. 


His disappointment became even greater when he saw that all his neighbors' fields were indeed filled with beautiful fruits and vegetables.


In despair, he approached one of his neighbors, “My field had the same amount of rain as yours.  My field had the same sunshine as yours.  My field is even the same size as yours, yet mine didn't yield any fruit while yours did.  Can you explain to me what happened?"


"The answer is simple!" explained the neighbor.  "G-d's blessings are only effective when you do what is expected of you. I planted seeds, fertilized the ground, and removed the weeds, so now G-d's blessing of rain has brought forth wonderful fruits.  You, however, didn't do anything in your field.  All you did was pray, but you didn't do anything to cultivate G-d's blessings.  How can you expect His blessings to bear fruit?


The same is true with our prayers.  On Rosh Hashana we ask G-d to grant us everything we need in the coming year, but that is not enough.  We have to do our part. The mitzvot and good deeds we perform are the seeds we sow in order for G-d's blessings to take effect. Between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is the most appropriate time to begin planting…