On Friday, September 20, the students and faculty of Shevach High School were privileged to hear from Mrs. Dina Schoonmaker, who had just arrived that morning from Eretz Yisrael. Mrs. Schoonmaker is a member of the faculty of Michlalah and a renowned speaker and lecturer. Her topic was preparing for Rosh HaShanah. She stressed the idea that if a person overcomes his negative qualities and is able to overlook others’ misdeeds, Hashem will show mercy with His judgment. She explained this in terms of one’s measuring how others treat us vis-à-vis how we treat them; we should not ruminate on the perceived wrongs that others do to us. We should be sure not to become, in her words, a “pain obsessor” or an “injustice collector.”

Mrs. Schoonmaker also gave very practical advice on doing t’shuvah. She recommended that any kabbalos we take on ourselves should be small and doable. Further, the temptation to take on big kabalos is actually the yeitzer ha’ra setting us up for failure. She quoted Rav Wolbe, that sinning is using our free choice inappropriately; a kabbalah is using it appropriately. She cited Rav Hutner, who explained that a kabbalah is showing Hashem that we want the future to always be better than the past.

Mrs. Schoonmaker ended by expressing that the best way to create the relationship of Elul – that of “Ani L’Dodi V’Dodi Li” – is to be proactive, doing something to show Hashem that we are trying to bring Him nachas. Her thought-provoking words, delivered in her engaging style, definitely inspired the Shevach students to walk away with practical advice for preparing for the Yamim Nora’im.