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    Teshuva Power

    Did you hear about Macy’s? After C O V I D – 1 9 caused it to shut its doors for five months, the mega-retailer expected to come back booming. To their chagrin, they discovered that people all over the country are still reticent to come into a store because of fears of the pandemic. Furthermore, they kept their dressing rooms closed to impede the spread and when people saw that they couldn’t try on clothing, they avoided purchasing and instead opted for online shopping. On top of that, BLM looting wreaked havoc on Macy’s stores across the nation. In an effort to restructure, Macy’s decided to make an unheard of 4 Day Sale, September 24 through September 28, 85% off on the entire inventory including even designer labels, jewelry and perfumes. What? You didn’t hear about this? I’m not surprised. I just made it up. But, I’m sure that as soon as you read it, you said to yourself, “I’ve got to make it my business to make a serious trip or two to Macy’s. Only a fool would give up such an opportunity.” This is the way we need to feel during the Aseres Yomei Teshuva, the 10 Days of Repentance. Only once a year, during these 10 Days Hashem is available to everyone no matter how sullied they are; whether they daven in a minyan or alone. As the verse proclaims, “Dirshu Hashem b’himotzaoh – Seek out Hashem when he can be found,” and the Gemora says that this refers to these days. The Rambam informs us that on Rosh Hashanah, three Books are opened in Heaven. In Book One, the completely righteous are immediately signed and sealed for life. In another Book, the completely wicked are signed and sealed for death. The majority of the populace, those in the middle are suspended in the third Book. The Rambam concludes with a flourish – if they do teshuva and repent, they are sealed for life. If not… Well, we don’t want to talk about it. Everyone asks on this Rambam if we are in the middle with some mitzvahs and some sins, why doesn’t the Rambam recommend that we do a lot of mitzvahs in order to tilt the scales in our favor? Why does he only recommend teshuva? The classic answer is that we are being judged for the year 5780. These days are already in the New Year and these mitzvahs belong in 5781. This is much like your accountant telling you that your deductions in 2020 can’t help for your 2019 returns. This answer, however, is not so simple for the holy seforim tell us that we should try to do as many mitzvahs as possible, such as buying a lulav and esrog, seeming to imply that extra mitzvahs do help for the impending verdict. Rav Itzele Blazer zt”l, zy”a, the great Baal Mussar, says a different answer. He explains that even if we do a lot of extra mitzvahs, if we don’t do teshuva during this season and we spurn Hashem’s outstretched Hand, the sin of ignoring Hashem’s benevolence is so great that it outweighs any mitzvahs that we might do. If we would make time for Macy’s, we absolutely need to make time for a personal reckoning and a “to-do-better” list to make sure that Hashem grants us a sweet new year. Especially with storm clouds of COVID-19 still brewing, with racial unrest and antisemitism swirling all around us, with a presidential election that can erupt with all kinds of dangerous violence, and with a very uncertain economy, it behooves us to take matters in our own hands and show Hashem that we are doing our part by getting the message of all these frightening events to repair ourselves spiritually so that He will shine upon us as He surely can, with His Divine blessings. In the merit of our improvements both in the arena of bein adam l’Makom (between us and Hashem) and bein adam l’chaveiro (between us and our fellow), may Hashem bless us with the Seal of long life, good health, and everything wonderful.