הַאֲזִינוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וַאֲדַבֵּרָה
וְתִשְׁמַע הָאָרֶץ אִמְרֵי פִי
Listen, O heavens, and I will speak! And let the earth hear the words of my mouth!
There are times when we feel that we are on a spiritual high, so to speak. For some, it’s after a fabulous shiur or a strong davening, and for many, it is after they have gone through the Yamim Nora’im. This pasuk is telling us that it is not enough to experience these feelings, but we must channel them down to earth and integrate all of these spiritual emotions in our daily, very busy, and often mundane, lives. It is not enough that our spirituality is “l’sheim Shamayim” — our gashmiyus lives must also be filled with Hashem.
Rabbi Yoni Levin, of Congregation Aish Kodesh, once said that this is the lesson of this week’s haftarah. “ קְחוּ עִמָּכֶם דְּבָרִים וְשׁוּבוּ אֶל ה׳ — Take these words with you and return to Hashem.” Take the elevated feelings of hisorerus and teshuvah into your days and weeks ahead. Bring it to your family, your work, and your daily interactions.
Once, after a beautiful and uplifting Yamim Nora’im, days filled with such pure kedushah, I asked Rabbi Moshe Weinberger, my Rav, “How do I go to work now?” He responded, “Take the Belt Parkway!” He was telling me that we don’t run away from our daily obligations after experiencing a spiritual climax; we bring it along with us.
This is what Hashem was telling Noach when He said, “ — צֵא מִן הַתֵּבָה Leave the ark.” The teivah is a reference to a safe haven, not just in the physical sense, but a spiritual one as well. The land was filled with impurity, and it was there that Hashem kept Noach safe. Yet, when the time was right, Hashem instructed Noach to go out from the teivah — go out into the world, and it is there that you will fulfill your mission.
The chassidim say that מַשִּׁיב הָרוּחַ וּמוֹרִיד הַגָּשֶּׁם — let the ruchniyus “leave” and bring down the gashmiyus! Let the true avodah begin.
One of the most beautiful days of the year is Erev Yom Kippur. It is charged with anticipation and holiness. Meaningful phone calls take place, everyone is giving “G’mar Chasimah Tovah” wishes, and even the grocery store feels different. Nobody is annoyed at the guy who is paying with exact change; people offer to allow others to go ahead of them.
You can literally feel that Yom Kippur is in the air. That is Heaven and Earth coming together.
הַאֲזִינוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם… וְתִשְׁמַע הָאָרֶץ — May we merit experiencing Heaven on Earth by taking all the meaningful moments that we experience and living with them every moment.
Excerpted from Faith at Work by Jeff Weinberg