Monday, August 1, 2011


The 9 days have begun. Let us look inside to see where we can better ourselves - where we need to do teshuva, where we need to do more good deeds, where we need to guard our mouth from speaking loshon hora and guard our eyes from the unmodesty that surrounds us.


The Talmud (Berachos 3b) tells us: “A harp was hanging over King David’s bed. At midnight a north wind came and blew upon it and it played. King David arose immediately and studied Torah until the break of dawn…” Which verse teaches us this?

“Awake, my soul, awake, lyre and harp; I will awaken the dawn (Tehillim 57:9).”

The Maharsha points out that the word awake appears three times in this verse
corresponding to the three types of spiritual awakening. They are:

1. A person arouses himself.
2. A person uses another entity to arouse himself.
3. A person arouses another person (or entity).

King David aroused himself to study Torah from dusk till midnight — “Awake, my soul.” At midnight, the harp awakened him to rise as a lion — “Awake, lyre and harp.” Then King David awakened the morning — “I will awaken the dawn.”

King David’s vibrant study of Torah throughout the night was powered by all three
types of arousal — each one strengthening the next. We understand from this passage
that before a person can serve Hashem, he must be spiritually awake.

The month of Elul precedes the holy days of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. This month was designated by our Sages as a time for preparation to awaken and arouse ourselves for the upcoming Days of Awe. How can this be accomplished?

Rav Yisrael Salanter, the founder of the Mussar movement, teaches us that Mussar study is the primary and most effective way to open our hearts towards teshuvah (repentance) on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur.

Stepping Stones to Repentance: A Thirty-Day Program was designed to guide you step by step through the preparation necessary to merit the abundant blessings of the Holy Days. Although it was designed especially for the month of Elul, one may begin Stepping Stones to Repentance at any time. Set aside a specific time each day to learn a daily segment of the program. Read each segment aloud, with feeling, and take time to absorb the profound concepts.

May Hashem bless you in your commitment to complete Stepping Stones to Repentance. May it awaken your heart, particularly during the designated Ten Days of Repentance, and may the collective repentance of klal Yisrael arouse mercy in Heaven that we may merit the final redemption and the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash (the Temple) soon and within our days!

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