Contributed by: R. Ezra Mizrahi
As Rosh Hodesh Eloul rolls around this weekend, we are once again faced with a season of introspection: a month of Selihot and teshouba, a month where we renew our connection with Hashem. As we grow older, year by year, we must put real substantial effort in: understanding our role in this world, growing spiritually, and reconnecting with our creator on a higher level.
After all, if we are on the same spiritual plane as we were a year ago, while now being a year closer to death, how can we claim to be the "chosen" and "enlightened" people? Have we toiled more on our own worldly enjoyments than our post-worldly ecstasy? Do we know more about cleaning a pool than we know about this week's parasha? .a sad but real question.
And so we turn to this week's parasha, Re’eh, to find some insight into what we can newly incorporate into our lives during this month of growth. We read this week:
"There, in the presence of Hashem your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because Hashem your God has blessed you." (Devarim 12:7)
This verse deals with a description how the Jews will fully enjoy the produce of the land of Israel. The Seforno rearranges the words of the verse in order to teach us a very important lesson. He explains that the verse is giving us an outlook that me must have, not only when enjoying the food of the land of Israel, but also when we perform our daily Misvot:
The Seforno explains that one must perform the misvot with happiness. Sadly, especially this month, when we are asked to wake up an hour earlier for Selihot, it is difficult to find "happiness". Who is smiling at 6 am? 5 am?!
Still, the Seforno tells us that we must be happy before Hashem, meaning that we must perform the Misvot with happiness. There can be two potential meanings to this statement. First, one can be happy with doing an action because then one will be rid of the responsibility of doing the action. Second, we can perform the act with happiness for the sake of fulfilling the misvah.
Which is the Seforno referring to?
There is a hint later in this week's parasha.
"You are the children of Hashem your God. Do not cut yourselves or shave the front of your heads for the dead." (Devarim 14:1)
We are the children of Hashem. The Da’at Zeqenim explain that because we are the sons of Hashem, when your father of flesh and blood dies, we are not to mourn excessively and scar ourselves as the rest of verse tells us. Know that we are not orphaned, but that Hashem, our father is still there and is forever in existence. We are eternally not alone.
Our bond with Hashem is permanent and everlasting, beyond any relationship that we have with our families. Therefore, we must act in such a relationship with happiness for the sake of what it is, for to be happy that a misvah is done with, or that Selihot are over with, is silly- these misvot are our opportunity to show our happiness that Hashem has chosen us. What more can be asked from us, than to show happiness over such a divine exclusivity?