Overcoming Difficult Times

Sometimes a child has a difficult year at school. Sometimes
he has a difficult month, week or even day. Inevitably, poor performance leads
to a depressed feeling and a lessened desire to succeed in school.

While we, as parents, have the obligation to investigate why
our child is having a difficult time, it’s just as important to constantly give
our childrenחיזוק and
assurance that if they apply themselves, Hashem will help them overcome their
difficulties.

We see the corrective, yet supportive hand of Hashem in the
very meaning of the Chag of Rosh Hashanah.

Rosh Hashanah is a time of freedom, a time of renewal, a time
of cleansing, and purification. It has the power to free us from our strayward
ways and get us back on the path of righteous behavior. This power and purpose
of Rosh Hashanah is what causes us to celebrate as in other
חגים.

We recite twice each day the psalm of
"לדוד ה’ אורי וישעי". Chazal
say אורי refers to Rosh
Hashanah and ישעי to
Yom Kippur. Would it not make more sense for
אורי to represent יו"כ,
for through Teshuva and atonement we see things in a new, truer perspective?

However Hashem, in His ultimate kindness, does not leave us
on our own to search for ישועה
or atonement. Instead, on Rosh Hashanah, 10 days before the
sealing of the Din on Yom Kippur, he unleashes a tremendous spiritual "light"
which induces us to reassess our ways and ignites in us a yearning to do Teshuva
and to reattach ourselves to our pre-sin existence. Only with this new awakening
can we begin to hope for the ישועה
of Yom Kippur.

Theאור
in our posuk is hinting to theאור
of creation, meaning the
שורש-or source-of
אור, which teaches us that the
light of Rosh Hashanah reconnects us with the original untainted
אור which has the power to
free us of our unacceptable actions and give us a new start.

The Sefas Emes (Rosh Hashanah p.138) explains the word Rosh
Hashanah to read as Rosh = in the beginning or beforehand,
Hashanah
= the change (שינוי),
meaning Rosh Hashanah is the source and beginning before the changes which
occurred when Hashem created a physical world. So too we can say that Rosh
Hashanah is a time of purity before man’s sins punctured this purity and changed
the way man related to his role on earth.

Actually, just as Shabbos is the source and purifier of each
week, so too, Rosh Hashanah is the source and purifier of each year.

Rosh Hashanah is not only the beginning of the year, but the
beginning of the month as well, teaching us that just as the new month signifies
our mastery over nature, so too Rosh Hashanah signifies our mastery over nature
in its full cycle of events. This elevation over and beyond our nature gives us
an "ariel view" of our life situation, allowing us to repent and free ourselves
of our wrongdoings.

This idea of freeing oneself from the bonds of the previous
years’ actions can also be seen in the Radak’s explanation of why we blow the
Shofar on Rosh Hashanah. The Radak says that the shofar-blowing is a reminder of
freedom, similar to the Shofar of Yovel. This is also the meaning of Tashlich –
casting away our sins.

Rosh Hashanah gives us the strength to stand up to our Yetzer
and tell him, "Enough of you and your advice! I’m going to rid myself of your
influence and from now on Hashem’s light is going to be my guide". And so the
prophet Yechezkel, in teaching us the path to successful Teshuva, said
(18:30-31): "Turn yourselves and others away from all your sins … and develop …
a freshness of mind and spirit." The Rabeinu Yona in Yesod HaTeshuva explains
that in order to do Teshuva, one need to cast off all his sins and consider
himself newly born. Begin anew!

The strength to begin anew is relayed to us on Rosh Hashanah.
It’s light helps us cast off our sins, reacclaim Hashem as King and work toward
developing a new perspective on life.

Children who have had a difficult year or even a difficult
episode, can be confident that each new year (even day) Hashem shines on a
person to help him defray his difficult past and gives him strength to pick
himself up and work toward a better future. Just as Hashem gives us great
חיזוק, its our duty to give to
our children great and continual חיזוק
to help them succeed in battling the ups and downs of childhood.