A father always loves his children

By Rabbi Hershel Spalter, Chabad of Greater Dayton
I come from a large family, and growing up, we behaved as children often do, testing boundaries and pushing our parents’ limits. One story — repeated often in my family — has us knowingly breaking the rules only after careful deliberation over whether the consequence was worth the risk.

No matter what we did wrong, however, one thing which we heard over and over again was that our parents loved us. We knew that every punishment we received was coming from a sincere desire to help us, raise us, and teach us morality and righteousness.

Rabbi Hershel Spalter
Rabbi Hershel Spalter

And we knew that regardless of how far we would stray from our parents’ direction, their love would never cease. Over and over, we heard that “a mother and a father always love their child.”

A few weeks ago we read in the weekly Torah portion that “banim atem la’Hashem Elokeichem, You are children to Hashem, your God.”

There are times we are called God’s nation, even called His chosen nation, but in the Jewish month of Elul a new, deeper, more powerful connection to Hashem is revealed.

A leader can be distant from his nation, can close his ears and mind to their plight. But a father will always love his children. We are called his beloved friends. But a grudge may be held against a friend, while a mother will always love her children.

This is emphasized now to bring to light a hidden detail in our High Holy Days services. With the High Holy Days so close, Jews around the world are preparing to start a new year. On Rosh Hashanah we crowd the synagogues, sometimes paying top dollar to ensure we have a prime place to sleep through the rabbi’s sermons.

On Yom Kippur we fast to ensure a quick judgment in our favor. These days of awe and judgment require preparation, as any legal proceeding might. We approach these Holy Days, knowing that there will be a decision handed down based on our past performance as Jews.

At this time, our life and livelihood are decided on high. Preparations vary, with some choosing to dedicate the time before to pray, others through deep personal introspection, or through simply focusing on the material needs of the day.

Regardless of preparation, we all have a trump card. There is a claim which can be made in the heavenly court, to which there is no refutation, to which the heavenly accuser will find no counterargument.

When standing before God, on these most holy days, we can cry out to our heavenly king, “Avinu, Malkeinu, our Father, our King! True, you are our king, you are now prepared to pass judgment upon us. Surely you are aware of our transgressions, you know our thoughts, you know that we may have rebelled against your will. Do not forget, that though you are our king, you are our father. And a father always loves his children.“

We then raise the majestic shofar, and we blow the prescribed notes, notes which are designed to mimic the crying of a child — and who can listen to a child’s cries without feeling his own heart crying out as well?

The truth is, there is no need to wait. The time before Rosh Hashanah is considered the best time to reach out to God. In these days of preparation, we are told that the Almighty is more available than ever, waiting for us to call and cry to him.

In the month of Elul, we blow a shortened version of the blasts blown on Rosh Hashanah. Many have the custom to ask forgiveness from friends for any wrong they may have done them.

With tearful eyes we make amends for hurting others, and declare our intentions to do better in the future. Hashem then listens, and cries along, and inscribes us in the supernal book of life, of good, because a father always loves his children.

To read the complete September 2015 Dayton Jewish Observer, click here.

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