Return Through the Narrow Gate


“Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak! Let the earth hear the words of my mouth. May my teaching trickle like rain, my speech distill as dew – like gentle rain on new grass, like showers on tender plants.”

  • Deuteronomy 32:1, Tree of LIfe Version

The L’RD instructs Moses to teach the people a song – to be memorized – that will serve as a witness against them in future generations. Moses calls upon the heavens and the earth to serve as witnesses, since they will outlast the generations, always serving to remind Israel of this song. On another level, according to Rashi, the heavens and earth would actually play an active role in chastising Israel – the nourishing rains of the heavens would diminish, and the produce of the earth would be withheld. On a more subtle note, not only the words of this song reverberate throughout the heaven and earth; even the L’RD’s words, intent and guidance span the continents and the skies, reaching out to all who will listen intently for His voice (Psalm 19:1-5; Isaiah 55:11).

If we let ourselves absorb the words of the L’RD, even our higher selves, that reach towards the heavens, as well as our lower selves that are bound to the earth, we may look forward to the redemptive acts that G’d will work out in our lives. His words will lead us forward through the challenges of our lives. Yet, when we are in a quandry, unable to see the light, there is a narrow path through which we may return to Him; thereby, stepping out of the mire that we may be in because of our own negligence and transgressions. So, teshuvah is the element that allows us to seek Him again when we have made the wrong choices in our lives, having turned away from the Torah given at Sinai. When we hear the sound of the shofar, our souls awaken to what is essential in our connection to G’d.

“Bring us back to You, AD’NAI, and we will return. Renew our days as of old.”

  • Lamentations 5:21, Tree of Life Version

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow is the gate and difficult the way that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

  • Mattisyahu 7:13-14, Tree of Life Version

On Shabbat shuvah, the Shabbos of return, we have the opportunity to choose life, so that we may live in accordance with our Heavenly Father’s intent for us. Not our will; rather, His will be done: we need to recognize Him as King over our lives, Sovereign L’rd, and Creator of the Universe. For on Rosh Hashannah we are called to make Him King over our lives, through obedience to the commandments. He is calling us to return.

The letter hei represents repentance. Although there is a wide space at the bottom of the letter, signifying free will, inasmuch that if we leave the confines of Torah we can fall – G’d forbid – through that open space into the abyss (Menochos 29b); the letter hei also has a narrow space towards the top, in order for one to return to G-d through teshuvah. This is the narrow way.

“If we return to Him, he will meet us half way. – Talmud Yoma 35b

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