Shoftim: Alone in Elul
One of the joys of having a baby with older children around (especially older girls), is you barely get to see the baby! It's a man's dream come true: "Okay... had a child... what's next? I'm bored...."
My wife was complaining how all the children seem to look like they come from my side and not hers. I asked her, "But, don't you find the kids cute?". "Of course!" she answered. "Then perhaps that's the reason why!", I responded.
Maybe she'll start talking to me soon....
I ran into an interesting Gemara (Eruvin 18b) this week.
On this particular page, there is a series of short teachings from Rav Yirmiyah ben Elazar. In one of the teachings, he says, "From the time of the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, it is enough for the world to use [Hashem's] two letter name (spelled: Yud-Hey).
As we know, Hashem has several names that are used to relate His relationship with us. There is a special name that only Cohanim can use, for example, and we often use a four letter name (Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey) when we daven or say brachos. But, says Rav Yirmiyah ben Elazar, since the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, the public is to use the two-letter name. He brings a backing from the pasuk in Tehillim (150), "Let every soul praise Hashem (Yud-Hey), Halleluka."
Tosfos cites Rabbeinu Chananel, who says that the word soul in the pasuk (HaNeshama) can also be read: HanShama, which means "desolate". So the pasuk can also be read "Let every desolate one praise Hashem…"
Before she started looking for a husband, my wife went to speak to her rav, Rav Moshe Chakowlski. He told her that even when one is married and has children, it is important that one remember, that ultimately, each and every person is alone in their relationship with Hashem. A husband cannot pull a wife up and a wife cannot pull a husband up. Of course, they can work together and BRING each other up, but ultimately, one's relationship with Hashem is a personal one and cannot be dependent on another person.
As we begin Elul, now less than a month away from Rosh HaShanah, it's important to remember this lesson. Each neshama is desolate. It's alone in the world. One can have many friends and/or family, but in the end, each person must give an accounting of themselves and hold themselves responsible for where they are and where they are going. It's during this period that we use our time to pull away from others, in some way, and begin to think of our own personal journeys and where we want to go, keeping in mind that, ultimately, it's up to us.
Have a wonderful and meaningful Shabbos!