Rosh Hashanah Prayers: Attention Grabbers: Na’aman I
From an unedited transcript of a shiur:’Naaman, general of the army of the king of Aram was an eminent person in his masters presence and highly honour for through him had Hashem given victory to Aram the man was a great warrior, a metzora’.
This is interesting, the translation is not that perfect, but, so its he’s eminent, highly honoured because Hashem had given victory to Aram through him. I am assuming that the people of Aram, especially the king was not acknowledging Hashem’s role in giving them victory. That is was simply that he had won a number of victories and that he is a great warrior and he is also a metzora. And again we will translate it, mistranslate it as leprosy.
Now, let’s go to the story itself. Aram at this time is an incredible power and they have they are able to rule over Bnei Yisrael without any problem at all. They can treat them any way they want, they have all the power. The king of the Jews at this time, this is the northern part of Israel where this story is taking place, so this is the 10 tribes and the king is Yahoram. So Aram had gone out in raiding parties, now remember this is a great power. And they send out raiding parties and they captured a young girl from the land of Israel and she served Naaman’s wife. What is your question? What is wrong with this verse?
Here they are the most powerful army, they basically can do to the 10 tribes whatever they want. They are the super power of the day. They can demand things from the Jews, get everything. They send out raiding parties. What do these raiding parties come back with?
A girl. What’s wrong with that picture?
Where are the animals? Where is the money? Where is the gold? And one girl? One girl. If you are going to send raiding parties, not even just one rating party and this is such a powerful army, come back with a bunch of women. But all they get is one girl. And so this girl, obviously Naaman who is the general, who is the one who has all the power and the prestige, the eminence, he is the one who takes the girl into his house and he assigns her to be a maidservant to his wife. So, already there is the message coming through in this story, which is, is they capture only one girl and that’s all they succeed with all they raiding parties, then obviously this one girl is there for a reason. But I assume that nobody stopped to think, here we are this power of authority we can do to them whatever we want, they send us taxes, they send us money, they send gifts, we send out a bunch of raiding parties and we come back with one girl, something is little strange over here. But no one stops to think. Which already is a problem because it is describing people who are not taking things that happened to them seriously. Because if you take it seriously you would have to wonder why is it happening like that. I don’t know if you ever read one of these newspaper stories or you hear a report that Israel sends 10 jets and they bomb this bomb factory or they bomb this and bomb that and there are 2 casualties. And you wonder, a massive bomb destroying the building and there are only 2 casualties, something sounds disproportionate. Now, how come so few people died, whether it’s accurate or not, all that fire power and that’s all that happens. But people don’t pay attention to things that happen. We don’t pay attention to big things and we don’t pay attention to smaller things that happen. And when that happens to us, we begin to lose our connection to G-d. and this is one for the reasons people have tzoraas, this biblical leprosy, which does not exist anymore, and again is definitely not leprosy, is a way of Hashem sending a message you are not being careful with your speech, you are breaking yourself from the community, you must do teshuva. And that’s part of the reason why people who had tzoraas have to move out of the community so as not to defile anyone else, to make them tamei. Because you separated yourself by speaking lashon harah and therefore I am going to separate you from the community. The gemarah says there is another reason that when the community sees that someone is suffering with the humiliation of tzoraas so that people will begin to pray for that person to be healed which re-energises the connection of the community and hopefully this will cut down more on lashon harah. But tzoraas is an attention grabber.
And so the first thing that we read about in this story is that Hashem constantly sends attention grabbers. And the only question is whether we take advantage of those attention grabbers or not.
that’s why the Zohar says that when our neshama goes up every night to shamayim to recharge its spiritual batteries, when it comes back, its chock full of information. Spiritual, very powerful spiritual insights and that the neshama uses every second of the day to convey those spiritual insights to us. And it does not repeat itself. So every second has a new insight and the only question is, are we able to take advantage if those insights? Do we know how to pay attention to our souls? One of the great advantages of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur as we look back over a year, is if we don’t fall into the trap of guilt and we don’t fall into the trap of focusing on mistakes of the past year and feeling terrible about wasted opportunities and so on and so forth, we at least have the opportunity to recall as we review the year, moments when Hashem was sending us messages to grab our attention. And even if we did not necessarily pay attention when those moments came, if we can grab those moments and think about them before Rosh Hashana then what we are saying to Hashem is send more messages to us. Because we are practicing paying attention to the message that you are giving us. So whether it was we had one davening which was extraordinary and instead of just walking around saying wow, that was a wonderful davening, I really connected and thinking back with fondness on that one davening, if we would reflect what went into that davening that made it special, what happened before the davening? How did everything click at that moment? And we pay attention to it, then we are saying to Hashem – send more of such moments to us. And that’s what happens on Rosh Hashana. Hashem says I have given you a year of life, what are you doing with the life that I am giving you? And if we take advantage of those moments of insight for when Hashem is trying to grab our attention and we reflect on it now, then those messages are not wasted. And because they are not wasted Hashem says – this person I am going to send more.