THE HIGH HOIDAYS: REACHING FOR THE STARS
By Sherrie B. Miller
For all of Klal Yisrael, the Yomim Noraim evoke a multitude of feelings that range
from awe, fear, love and even intimacy with the Ribono Shel Olam. While the gamut
of these emotions stirs within, we must consciously do our soul searching in order
to grow and develop personally while ever deepening our attachment to Hashem.
If we pay close attention to the final order of Parshiyot of the Torah as they interface
with each of the chagim and the feelings that they evoke, there will be many lessons
to be gleaned!
Rabbi David Aron describes the various types of relationships we discover through
metaphors of Hashem as King and Judge associated with Rosh Hashana, loving and forgiving
Father related to Yom Kippur, Sukka as it symbolizes the wedding canopy, followed
by the intimate dance of love as we rejoice with the Torah on Simchat Torah.
We can extrapolate from the use of these particular metaphors, how they relate to
us in looking for a marriage partner. Kingship should be seen as recognition that
we are all created in the image of G-d. In order for a relationship to be healthy
and lasting, self-respect and complete respect for my spouse are pre-requisites.
Judgment is truly possible only by the Omnificence of the All knowing G-d.
We must remember that we are judged by Him, the exact way that we so unkindly judge
Fatherhood symbolizes compassion, understanding, empathy and the ability to forgive
the mistakes of others.
We are struck with a sense of movement and progress as we go from Parshat Nitzavim,
standing, on to Parshat Vayelech, walking.
There is a time for standing, being still to contemplate and review past history
before embarking on new territory based on new insight and depth of understanding.
It is a time of reflection and analysis of where I was, where I am and where I am
going. Then we can begin to move effectively on the sometimes, unpaved path of life.
Vayelech Moshe, and Moshe went has a startling interpretation which Rabbi Stewart
Weiss brings from the Rav Moshe Feinstein ztz”l: Moshe had a choice to live or to
submit willingly and fulfill Hashem’s command that his life be ended. Moshe chose
the latter. This teaches us the power and control we actually have over our lives.
We often hear stories of people who are ill and wait for a significant event that
is about to occur, or wait until loved ones arrive, before passing on. This teaching
should impress upon us the need to adhere to the Mitvot, exercising our G-d given
Free Will and behave with true responsibility toward ourselves, others and of course,
Hashem. The great chiddush of Rav Moshe, ztz”l is that to a great extent, we can
determine our own fate.
Much depends on the ego or yetzer hara, which is determined to limit us and keep
us in a state of inertia (Nitzavim). My fate depends on where I put the “I”, as
can be detected by the two words: unite/untie, same letters just moving the I. This
is proven as well with the word “ani”, I. When jumbled, we have “ayin” or nothingness.
Lack of awareness of this trap of Me-llenium mentality,can account for the high
divorce rate and the sharp decline in marriage.
Parshat Ha’azinu helps us to grasp the task at hand. Ha’azinu which means to listen
and comes from the word “ozen”, ear. The ear is the source of our physical balance,
as anyone who has suffered from vertigo can attest to. Ha’azinu is also is the root
of the word “moznaim,” a scale. A scale is used to measure and balance things. Life
is learning to balance the needs of the “I” with the need of the “Thou” also embodied
in the concern for the community, the planet, the universe and of course, ultimately
with The Creator.
How can this be applied to dating?
When transitioning from a standing position, to choosing to forge ahead, we ought
to begin with the end in mind and heed the first bracha of the sheva brachot, which
is the crux and foundation of the purpose of marriage: she’hakol bara lichvovdo:
It’s not really all about me, but rather it’s about bringing glory to the Almighty.
We are meant to create a dwelling place here on earth that Hashem would feel comfortable
The criteria for finding my bashert, is not embedded in the “perfect” one,(they
just need to be “perfect” for me,) or in finding my clone, but davka in someone
who is different and can be a “help” mate. This means a person who completes and
complements me and sometimes helps me grow by opposing me.
We understand this teaching in the second bracha of the sheva brachot: borei pri
hagafen. The gefen (grape) is the only food that when squeezed takes on a higher
bracha. All fruits go from Ha’etz to she’hakol after being liquefied. Not so the
grape. The grape is used in all religious holidays and occasions, (to sanctify the
time) because through the squeezing and the “distress” its taste is significantly
enhanced and improves its quality.
So too in marriage, what determines its success, is not being conflict free, but
rather learning how to communicate, compromise and adhere to my responsibilities
that enhance me, my relationship with my spouse, with Hashem and makes the world
a place where the Shechina wants to rest. Kohelet furthers the point by decrying
the futility of “amal” work in this world as all in vain. Naturally, King Solomon
is referring to the physical labor aimed at acquiring greater wealth, constant career
advancement, overindulgence in recreation and other fleeting and temporal pleasures.
He says: “understand is about being with your wife, with the one you love,” interpreted
by the Geresh Yereichim, that this is the way to achieve a life of holiness and
The real work that is everlasting is in the spiritual realm “Amal” is an acronym:
al m’nat l’lamed, in order to be able to teach. The Shema that we recite 3 times
daily, commands each of us, “v’shinantam l’vanecha” and you shall teach your children!
This is the fundamental cornerstone of our religion:
“Torah Tziva Lanu Moshe, Morasha Kehillat Yaakov.” (Parshat V’zot Habracha-final
Parsha of the Torah.)
The commentaries explain that the word Morasha (heritage) is used and not Yerusha,
(inheritance), because the latter can be squandered and lost by its new owners.
Morasha, on the other hand depends on commitment and ardent love (V’ata kitvu et
haSHIRA hazot) to sustain and perpetuate the teachings of Torah. It should not be
seen as an arduous duty, but rather a labor and song of love.
There are no magic potions for everlasting love. Love is a constant building (binyan
(verb) adei ad. What I put into it, is what I will receive from it. Constantly giving
and putting my partner first is something that I must strive to accomplish constantly
over my lifetime and has a boomerang effect.
“The more I give to thee, the more I have.” (Shakespeare)
Sukkot is the time of taking that leap of faith and going outside to live under
the stars surrounded by the natural elements that often seem threatening.
Only after this conscientious process and total investment of my higher self, will
I be worthy of the gift of true intimacy and closeness embodied in the love story
of Simchat Torah.
While we sit in our Sukkah this year please G-d, and gaze toward the heavens above,
may we be reminded of our innate search and desire to reach for the stars!
Sherrie B. Miller is a Jewish Matchmaker
on SawYouAtSinai.com and works with
Jewish Singles all over the world. She is an educational guidance counselor,
group leader, pre-marital coach, matchmaker and Judaic Studies teacher. Sherrie
is dedicated to promoting and enhancing emotional intelligence and communication
skills in conjunction with Torah values.
Sherrie received her educational counseling degree from the Michlalah in Bayit Vegan
and an M.A. in Education and Counseling from Touro College, Jerusalem, Israel. Sherrie
also holds a B.A. in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Brooklyn College and a
B.Sc. from Yeshiva University in Jewish Education. Sherrie is certified by Midreshet
Emunah and is accredited by the Rabbanut of Israel, to be a pre-marital couple’s
counselor and Kallah teacher.
Before coming to Israel in 1989 from Great Neck, New York, Sherrie taught Judaic
Studies at the North Shore Hebrew Academy. Sherrie also educated affiliated and
unaffiliated adults through the “Project Identity” outreach program under the directorship
of Rabbi Yaakov Lerner. Sherrie trained individuals and couples in the laws of Kashrut,
Guidelines of Parenting, Parshat Shavua and Pirkei Avot.
In her work as a Guidance Counselor in the national religious “Mamad” school, "Yehuda
Halevi", Sherrie instructed life skill workshops to students, parents and teachers,
with a focus on communication, conflict resolution and anger management. She also
leads support groups for children of divorce.
Sherrie is certified by the Life Center and leads Parenting workshops based on the
Faber/Mazlish workshops on, “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids
Sherrie is an executive board member of the Emunah World Zionist Organization, Mibreishit,
led by Rav Motti Alon, and Nishmat led my Rabbanit Hanna Henkin.
Sherrie’s diverse background in counseling and teaching, combined with torah principles
and values contribute to the depth and quality of her success with clients. Lessons
drawn from her own life transitions make her coaching perspective uniquely inspirational.
Sherrie helps individuals clarify their goals and take masterful action steps to
reach them. Sherrie is professionally known for her guidance in the educational
system as well as her outstanding capabilities teaching interpersonal relationship
skills to groups and individuals.
Having made a number of successful matches resulting in marriage, Sherrie volunteers
as a matchmaker for SawYouAtSinai, an internet matchmaking site.