And yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break My covenant with them; for I am the L-RD their G-d. (Vayikra 26:44)
The Meshech Chochmah on this verse discuses the plight of Klal Yisrael and its cycles in exile. Klal Yisrael is despised by a country, usually after they have achieved great esteem in that environment, and then they are expelled as fugitives. They rebuild in the next country and become solvent, they climb the ladder of prominence to be distinguished, and then they are expelled again.
He explains that after Jews become comfortable in their position, they usually tend to slack off, erosion and corrosion set in, and our service of Hashem decays to the point that Hashem is forced to act. Our challenge is always how to keep spiritually fresh and idealistic in an environment that is all too familiar to us. An analogy to this is the child who is bored of school, but yet looks forward to the first day of school in a new year because of the fresh start awaiting him.
The giants of the generation, whose spirits transport Klal Yisrael from one situation to a new one, have within them the fire to ignite souls in their new foreign soil.
This year, as I revisited this piece, I saw a line in it, that to me, held a key in how to beat the cycle. It is part of human nature to achieve and be outstanding. I would like to give a moshel: There could be a cook who makes the most delicious food and people the world over rave over the food. Yet, to the people who eat it every day, it is boring and tasteless. I once heard a world-famous chazon being interviewed. The interviewer asked him “what do you do the whole week long?” and he answered “it is not good enough for me to review my songs. I always have to find a place to put in a new piece and through that, even the golden oldies can shine bright”. I felt that this man was talking to me. In all of our avodas Hashem, for many the first place that it is apparent is in prayer. Just as the chazon, we have to find ways to keep our davening fresh.
Rosh Hashana has long since passed; and we look for inspiration how to become rejuvenated. The Meshech Chochmah teaches us that we need to find a place, however small it may be, that we can use our ingenuity to find a unique way to serve Hashem. When that action becomes bland, we need to find another unique way to serve Hashem. By making something a little unique, it gives us the ability to endure and appreciate everything we have. Remember: the first sign of decay is when things become humdrum.
The gemora in Kesuvos (75a) says that a person who travels from Eretz Yisrael to Chutz L’aretz and back, becomes invigorated and better than his peers who have not travelled. As I stand now in Chutz l’aretz, hopefully the surge of energy that I will bring back with me will help me and possibly all of us to feel the urgency to receive the Torah in two weeks with a more mature appreciation and with greater excitement than we had last year.