Here Comes that Awe-ful Feeling

September 10, 2015


I’m not a psychic, but I can predict with some certainty that this is going to happen to me: I am going to go to shul on Yom Kippur, look in my Machzor prayer book, and see my smorgasbord of sins clearly before me. I will feel slightly ashamed to be in this position, sitting before G-d, feeling like I’ve failed Him. Again. I will tell myself that I have made some improvements, “grown up” as they say, in my lifelong effort to find my place in the world, in service to Him, while I allow others to have their places as well. But on this day, I will remember the many times I have loved myself to a fault, only to see all too clearly that these are the exact times that cause me to hate myself. Especially on Yom Kippur.

It would appear that G-d wants it this way because that’s the way He created me–and everyone else from time immemorial. Self-love makes the world go round, and in order to keep each of us from letting it spin out of control, G-d also created Yom Kippur. So we can hate that part of ourselves that doesn’t leave room for others.

But if G-d truly wants us to perfect the world, why can’t we perfect ourselves?

It’s a question worth pondering.

Chassidic teaching emphasizes that most of us lack the ability to perfect ourselves, but it’s our mission to try nonetheless. We do this by refining our thoughts, speech and deeds, which are known in Chassidic parlance as “the garments of the soul.” This G-dly effort must be reconciled with the human self-love that propels us all, and thereby the world. G-d gave the Torah to teach us how to direct the totality of our energy, but we are still inevitably plagued by selfishness. We can’t eradicate this part of ourselves because it’s intrinsic to our humanness. Only G-d can eradicate this aspect of our being by transforming it, which is exactly what He will ultimately do by bringing Moshiach, the Messiah.

But until Moshiach comes and transforms us all, you’ll see things your way and I’ll see them mine. And we’ll both hate ourselves a little on Yom Kippur because we both know we each take up too much space.

The good news is that the older I get, the less this egotistical part of myself dominates my consciousness. There’s less fight in me, and my priorities are clearer. But if I’m still here, I still need to work on my own middos, character traits. And if Moshiach still isn’t here, I need to do more to bring him. Because Moshiach is waiting to transform the world into a place where everyone will openly see G-dliness; once and for all, there will be space for everyone.

In the coming year, I hope to better follow the Rebbe’s directive to “open our eyes and see” that Moshiach is already here. By doing that, I make Moshiach my reality, which, in addition to making me more pleasant to be around, helps to make Moshiach the world’s reality. It’s not all that hard to see where to improve–I can just look inside the Machzor and read the al cheit confessions.

The hard part, of course, is actually improving. I can try, and with G-d’s help, I will merit some success. But Yom Kippur is one fine day for recognizing the painful deficiency in my world and the whole world that only G-d can repair–by transforming creation’s essential nature, which is exactly what Moshiach’s arrival will accomplish.


  1. Reply


    As always thank you, Shana Tova!!

    1. Reply

      Lieba Rudolph

      Thanks, Ahmie! To you as well!!

  2. Reply


    Thank you for this soul-searching reflection. I feel humbled and uplifted at the same time; you did indeed affect my pondering.

    Here’s to Sweetness!

    1. Reply

      Lieba Rudolph

      Amen, amen, Leah! (And thanks for signing up!!)

  3. Reply


    Cute title.
    You hope to keep writing; I hope to keep reading.
    Shana tova!

    1. Reply

      Lieba Rudolph

      Great to hear from you, Ellen! Thanks for writing and for reading…Shana tova to you, too!

  4. Reply


    So happy about this post, and admiring of your honesty. May you have a year of bringing light to others lives through your posts, and may we all grow in our understanding of Moshiach and the desire to bring about that time of perfect peace. Shana Tova umetukah. Much love.

    1. Reply

      Lieba Rudolph

      All good back to you…Can’t wait…and thank you always for your encouragement, Amy!

  5. Reply


    Thank you for this soul-searching post. I feel both humbled and uplifted; you did indeed affect my pondering.

    Here’s to a year of sweetness for you and yours!

    1. Reply

      Lieba Rudolph

      Thanks, Leah, only sweetness to you and yours as well!!

  6. Reply

    Helene Wishnev

    Lieba – your honesty and continual striving to refine yourself and your writing in order to bring Moshiach is always refreshing and inspiring. May your efforts pay off speedily! Wishing you, all the Rudolphs and all K’lal Yisroel a very sweet New Year of revealed good!

    1. Reply

      Lieba Rudolph


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    1. Reply

      Lieba Rudolph

      Thanks for your pure, unadulterated approval, Rhonda!!

  8. Reply


    Brocho vesholom

    Your strong faith in Moshiach is very inspiring. Indeed, when we look at the world today, we can see a Moshiach type of world developing. Nations are making peace with one another, there are no major wars between countries, the world is uniting to eliminate terrorists, many of Israel’s enemies have become weaker, or have forged alliances with Israel, etc.

    Perhaps the complete redemption is very close. May we merit to hear good news soon.

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