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The Difference Between Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur
By Shmuel LitmannIn Czarist Russia, a Russian soldier, as was and probably still is, was found drunk by an officer. The drunk was sprawled across a heap of refuse, smiling and snoring. The officer, angered to see the uniformed soldier, lying in such a disrespectful manner, shouted to the drunk, "Get up, drunk!"
But the drunken soldier just laid on the pile of garbage, smiling up to the heavens.
The officer's anger increased as hesaw that the drunk paid him no attention. He kicked the soldier with a swift and hard boot in the side of the soldier. "Up, drunk!"
The soldier writhed from the pain but just turned over and ignored the officer's command.
Losing patience, the officer, yelled, "In the name of the Czar, His Majesty, Nicholas the Protector of his glorious people, I command you to stand at attention and stop disgracing the uniform of the Czar's glorious army!!"
The drunken soldier paid no attention to the officer's command, and continued smiling to the sky.
The officer then called two soldiers and had them drag the drunk to jail.
After the drunken soldier sobered up, he was brought before the judge for sentencing. The judge was excedingly angry with the soldier. "You disregarded the officer's command the stand at attention! You are guilty of disobeying orders!"
"But I was drunk! I was totally, stone dead drunk, "the soldier protested, "How could anyone expect me to stand up! It's not fair! It took two soldiers to carry me to the jail and another two days to sober up! How could anyone expect me to follow his orders?"
The judge hunched over and spoke to the soldier. "We can forgive you for not responding to the voice of the officer, even though you had no business being drunk in uniform, because that's the way we are. We can even forgive you for being so drunk that when you were kicked, you weren't able to get up, because we Russians some times over drink. But when the officer commanded you in the name of the Glorious Czar to stand, that you didn't even try! On that we sentence you to a year in jail!"
That's like us. During the rest of the year, HaShem wants us to return to him. OK, maybe we are to involved in our own life that we don't pay heed to his desire's. But comes Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, if we don't try, if we don't make an effort, woe to us!
from the October 1997 Edition of the Jewish Magazine