Back to School: Rosh Hoshana’s Coming!

There’s a famous segulah from the sefer Nefesh HaChaim that one who is in danger should intensely concentrate on the pusuk “Ein Od Milvado”. If he does this and thereby thinks, without interruption, how Ha-Shem controls every situation, he will merit help from above. (There’s an equally famous story with the Brisker Rav about this.) Similarly, says Rav Mattisyahu Solomon, there is a segulah of having a favorable judgement for the year if we intensely concentrate on the psukim of Malchius (Kingship) in the Rosh HaShana mussaf tefillah. This is our way of expressing our belief that Ha-Shem is King and everything happens only because of Him. But we really need to concentrate, without our worries interrupting us, and Ha-Shem judges us that day to what extent we can do this.

It’s quite hard. How do you concentrate on anything for more than a few seconds? Even in the middle of learning and davening, thoughts pop in and out of our heads about this worry and that situation, and we try to catch ourselves, sometimes without success.

Our job in Elul, says the Lakewood Mashgiach, is to practice. The studying is now, and the exam is on Rosh HaShana. Whenever we have the opportunity (which is really most of the day), stop and think about how Ha-Shem is running everything. When we bentch, when we are writing out checks, while at the doctor. And, of course, when interacting with others.

The school year has begun, and the load of stress which comes with it. Children wake up late, don’t do their homework, perhaps they don’t know what their assignment is. They are exhausted at the end of the long day, and throw their bags somewhere, and just want something to eat, or maybe just run out to play. Sometimes we lack patience with them, and raise our voices. Perhaps the teacher seems unfair, or loads them up with homework (which means YOUR homework), and why didn’t she tell me before that my kid was having problems? And we lose whatever patience remained.

But Ha-Shem runs the world. It’s time to practice, and this is the function of Elul. Let’s try, for at least two seconds a day, to be more patient, not raise our voices, judge favorably (all in two seconds?) and think that Ha-Shem is the King. If we do this often enough, when we get to the test on Rosh Hashana, we can merit a good judgement for ourselves and our families.

Originally Published on Sept 26, 2011

3 comments on “Back to School: Rosh Hoshana’s Coming!

  1. Does “Ein Od Milvado” imply that our perception that we creations are separate personalities is not accurate?

  2. Ross– thanks for this important thought! Can you provide the reference in Nefesh Hachayim for those of us interested in learning more about this? Thanks


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