Finding G-d In the Process by Rabbi Benny Berlin

In this week’s parasha (Torah portion), Moshe gives his final address to the Jewish people. Moshe lets the Bnei Yisrael (Children of Israel) know that the Torah is completely accessible. He says the famous words, “Lo BaShamayim Hi Leimor Mi Ya’aleh Lanu HaShamaima V’Yikacheha Lanu V’Yashmi’einu Osa V’Na’asena. V’Lo MeiEver LaYam Hi Leimor Mi Ya’avar Lanu El Eiver HaYam V’Yikacheha Lanu V’Yashmi’einu Osa V’Na’asena – It [the Torah] is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us and take it for us, to make it heard to us, so that we can fulfill it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us and take it for us, to make it heard to us, so that we can fulfill it?’” (30:12-13).

Why the repetitive use of the word “Lanu” (for us), when describing the accessibility of the Torah? I believe that Moshe was trying to convey to Bnei Yisrael an important message. It is not all about getting the Torah. It is also about going up to the heavens to get it. It is also about going across the sea to get it. Moshe was saying that if they ask who will get the Torah for them, they should also ask who will do the climbing to the heavens and traveling across the sea. Why does it matter? Because there is huge s’char (reward) in the effort put forth to achieve greatness. In each example, the extra “Lanu” by the actions that must be done to get the Torah teaches us that just as important as getting the Torah itself is the working hard to get it.

In life, we are often so focused on goals, and to some degree, as we should be, but sometimes we lose sight of the beautiful road trip. Despite the fact that we make goals for ourselves, there is no true end goal.

In the opening Mishna in Pirkei Avos (Ethics of our Fathers), “Lo Alecha HaMalacha LiGmor V’Lo Ata Ben Chorin L’Hivateil MiMena – It’s not on you to finish the job but you are not a free man to just ignore it” (Pirkei Avos 2:21). Kids cannot wait until they grow up. Teenagers cannot wait to finish high school. College students cannot wait to finish college ad get into the real world. Adults look back and wish they had childhood again and share the famous dictum, “Youth is wasted on the young.” Bochrim (bachelors) in yeshiva who are dating cannot wait to just get married, then to have kids, then to have kids who are adults.

If we have the right destination (albeit unreachable) and we have the right path, that path is so pleasant as Shlomo HaMelech (King Solomon) says, “Deracheha Darchei Noam – It’s [the Torah's] paths are pleasant paths” (Mishlei/Proverbs 3:17). Every moment of our lives that we are on the right path, we should appreciate and take joy in the process.

When the king sends you on a mission, every moment of the mission is awesome. Every second of your journey, you should feel very important and valuable and should enjoy being able to tell people you are doing a job for the king. On Rosh HaShana, we remind ourselves that Hashem is the King and we must therefore rejoice in everything we do to attempt to get closer to Him and perfect His world.

May we start another beautiful year the right way and rejoice in the fact that we are alive and have a beautiful, G-dly mission at all times. May we all be written in the Sefer HaChaim together for a sweet and good New Year filled with only bracha, hatzlacha, and simcha! Have an amazing final Shabbos of the year and an inspiring, life-changing Rosh HaShana!