Open the Gates on Rosh HaShanah

    September 2011          
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Who shall ascend the mountain?

By Zalman Eisenstock

It is the month of Elul again-the end of one year. In the distance I can hear the shrill sound of the shofar announcing without any words that the new year is fast approaching. And I try to look inside, searching where I am, where I have been and where I am going. It is so painful and difficult for there are so many layers that block the path of discovery. But I do not give up until I hear a voice in the background asking:

"Who shall ascend the mountain of the L-rd and who shall stand in the place of His sanctuary?"

I want to ascend, to be in a better place. And so I start taking small steps forward ever so hesitatingly. But wait-how do I know which path is for me? And how do I know that I will not fall from the mountain? It was so safe down below where I had always been.

And then I hear yet another voice that says:

"Only one who has clean hands and a pure heart shall ascend!"

I cry and feel despair for who on earth can say he fits such a description. Yet, the voice is still calling, beckoning-seeming to wait and see if I will try again to ascend, to move forward.

From the depths of my own soul a voice calls out: "Lift up your heads, O gates of heaven. Give me the opportunity for one moment of spiritual strength."

And I realize that I do not stand alone ascending that mountain, for along this path have come previous generations. Generations of holy men and women who dedicated their lives for lofty goals.

I wait to see if the gates of heaven will open up, if not for my sake, then for the sake of my ancestors. But there is no movement; the gates seem shut tight, and I wonder if I should keep trying

I look up again checking how far I have to go, and how much I have progressed, and again I reach very deep to call out one last time:

"Lift up your heads again, O gates and tell me whether to continue this battle. I have so little strength left…

It is then that I understand that I am not at the end of the struggle, but at the very beginning, and all beginnings are filled with trials. The path is clear to me. I must keep moving forward at my pace and my speed. The gates that seemed so tightly shut are now slightly open calling for me to continue to ascend.


from the September 2011 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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