Toward the end of his shiur last night (on עדות שאי אתה יכול להזימה), Reb Usher Weiss recalled that Reb Yisrael Salanter used to grow faint when they blessed the new month of Elul. The reason was his apprehension at the onset of the 'Days of Judgement' that Elul signals. He implored us to start to do Teshuvah now, and not to wait for Rosh Hashanah. 'Let us have something,' he said,
'even the smallest Teshuvah, to bring to HaQadosh, Barukh Hu in a month's time.'
Just as there is individual repentance and atonement (בס"ד), so there is communal repentance and atonement (בס"ד). Both are incumbant upon the individual Jew, because he/she is both an independent part of Knesset Yisrael, but also derives his/her identity from being an integral part thereof. It's not enough to worry about one's own house (despite Salanter's famous, depressing, adage). One must take one's own peace in hand to advance the Teshuvah of the whole.
Herewith, are two issues requiring חשבון נפש this first Shabbat of Elul.
Yisrael Harel points out that, tragically, if we wish to survive we must put our children in harm's way. If we don't, we are done. I would add that, as the Rov זצ"ל taught: The Jew, and we are Jews first (even if some don't want to admit it), must live an heroic life and has a heroic, glorious destiny. Sacrifice, however, is built intothat destiny and no amount of philosophizing can alter that reality. History is the proof.
Graduates of Sha'alvim are leaving YU because it's too academic. In other words, just when we so desperately need Bnai and Bnot Torah who have academic training, the forces of obscurantism are running riot in our yeshivot.
While the fire yet burns....there is much too fix.