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Vol. 16 No. 48
Yerachmiel ben Yitzchak Dovid HaLevi
v'Yitzchak Dovid ben Yerachmiel HaLevi
μξωτηϊ εμρ ζ"μ
Rosh Hashanah Thoughts
(Adapted from R. Bachye)
A Remembrance of Blowing
The Torah is remarkably vague with regard to the Mitzvah of Shofar in particular, and Rosh Hashanah in general, R. Bachye remarks. It does not even give us the least indication as to whether to blow a Shofar or a trumpet, nor any reason as to why we blow it! All the Torah does tell us (in the Parshah of the Mo'adim in Emor) is that the first of Tishri is a remembrance of blowing, leaving the Chachamim to turn to tradition to work out what these two words mean.
They, for their part, learned from the Pasuk in Yovel ("And you shall blow a Shofar of blowing" (via a Gezeirah-Shavah "Teru'ah" "Teru'ah") that we blow a Shofar on Rosh-Hashanah, and not a trumpet.
And from the Torah's insertion of the word "Zichron" (Remembrance) they learn that it is the Day of Judgement (like the Pasuk in Tzav "Mazkeres ovon" (a remembrance of sin).
From these two pieces of information they arrive at the conclusion that the first of Tishri is designated as the annual Day of Judgement on which we are taken to task for our sins, and on which it is befitting to hear the Shofar being blown.
The author goes on to explain that some issues are hidden, and only mentioned by way of hint because they are too profound for all but special individuals to comprehend, and the Torah was given to the people at large, not just to special individuals.
This explains too, he says, why the Torah says so little about various Mitzvos, and he cites as examples 1. the Mitzvah of Tefilin, where all the Torah tells us is 'to bind them on the hand/arm, and that they should be frontlets between the eyes' (leaving the definition of the Tefillin, the Parshiyos and where and how to lay them to oral tradition); 2. the Mitzvah of Tzitzis, which according to Chazal, is equal to all the Mitzvos in the Torah, yet, were it not for oral tradition, we would not even know the number of threads and the number of knots they comprise; and 3. this Mitzvah, which says nothing about what to blow, as we explained, what sort of notes or how many notes to blow, leaving it all to oral tradition!
And he adds, it is for the same reason that the Torah never alludes directly to the world of the Neshamos in the Torah, other than by way of hint is also because it is beyond a mortal being to fathom something that is spiritual in its entirety - in the same way as a fish that lives its entire life in water, has no inkling as to what fire is all about.
Din & Rachamim
The Medrash, commenting on the same Pasuk in Emor as we just discussed "be'Echad la'Chodesh yih'yeh lochem Shaboson, zichron teru'ah, mikro kodesh" - "be'Echad la'Chodesh" - this is Avraham" (about whom the Torah writes "Echad hoyoh Avraham" (Avraham was unique").
"zichron teru'ah" - this is Yitzchak (in connection with whom the Torah writes, following the Akeidah "And he [Avraham] saw and behold a ram
"*mikro* kodesh" - this is Ya'akov (about whom the Navi Yeshayah writes (Listen to Me Ya'akov and Yisrael, as he is called by Me (*mekoro'i*).
The Medrash is telling us here that blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah hints to the Midos (the Chesed of Avraham, the Pachad of Yitzchak and the Rachamim of Ya'akov). And just as the Midah of Pachad above is contained by Chesed before it and Rachamim after it (preventing from burning everything in its vicinity with its fire), so too, do we temper the Teru'ah with a Teki'ah in front and a Teki'ah behind it. This explains why Rosh Hashanah is sometimes referred to as Midas ha'Din be'Rachamim. And these two Midos working in conjunction are also contained in the words "Zichron Teru'ah" (that we discussed earlier - Din (Teru'ah) and Rachamim (Zichron, based on the Pasuk in Tehilim "G-d will bless our remembrance [Hashem zechoronu yevarech)".
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All About S'lichos
(Adapted from the Ta'amei ha'Minhagim)
The Mateh Efrayim cites the Minhag that whoever Davens S'lichos on any particular day, Davens that day before the Amud - Ma'ariv, Shachris and Minchah. There where this Minhag is kept, the Ba'al S'lichos has priority over an Aveil, a Yohrtzeit and a Mohel, and even if there is somebody who is more worthy than him. He concludes however, that nowadays, the Aveil and the Yohrtzeit take precedence over the Ba'al S'lichos.
He also writes that the widespread Minhag for an Aveil not to Daven before the Amud during the S'lichos days is not one of B'nei Torah. He does however, concede that during the Shiv'ah he should desist from doing so, particularly on Erev Rosh Hashanah, when the Midas ha'Din is prevalent.
The reason that we recite Viduy in the plural (to say 'Chotonu', rather than 'chotosi'), says the Yesod ha'Teshuvah quoting the Arizal, is because Yisrael are like one body, of which each individual is one limb. In fact, he says, this is the Arvus (responsibility for one another) which Yisrael undertook at Mount Gerizim and Mount Eival. What it amounts to is that whenever my fellow-Jew sins, it is as if I sinned. And that explains why we confess on all the items in the various lists, even though we know that personally, we did not commit them. Presumably, it also explains why the entire community recites Viduy ('Ashamnu, Bagadnu
' in unison), and in any event, it explains the use of the plural form even if we Daven privately at home.
But It's My Cabin, Captain!
The concept of communal responsibility is beautifully encapsulated in the well-known parable of the boat that began to capsize. When the captain went to investigate, he found a man drilling holes in the floor of his (below deck) cabin. In answer to the captain's protests, he replied 'But it's my cabin, captain; I paid for it!'
The Heart is the Root of All Evil
The Mateh Efrayim explains that we bang on our hearts at the mention of each sin, as a gentle reminder that the root of all sins lie in the heart (for so Chazal have said 'G-d wants the heart!').
And the Sh'loh adds that to recite Viduy by rote, without one's heart being broken within him is in itself a sin, as it looks very much as if he is reciting his sins because he is proud of them. And that is what we mean when we say 'On the sin that we sinned before You with the confession of our mouths' - Yes, we sinned by confessing with our mouths, and not with our hearts!
Our Fathers Sinned Too
The reason that we mention our fathers in the Viduy ('But we and our fathers sinned), says the No'am Elimelech, is based on the principle that a Jew should never declare himself a Rasha (so as not to incite the prosecuting angel). So on the one hand we confess at having sinned, but on the other, we modify the sins, by partially blaming our fathers for not showing us the perfect example. We will not do them any harm, since they are Gan Eden anyway, but we deprive the Satan of some of his ammunition.
The Alef in the word 'Chet' is not pronounced, the Degel Machaneh Efrayim observes, because whenever a person sins, he forgets the 'Alufo shel Olom' (the Chief of the World).
Ya'akov, Yitzchak & Avraham
Commenting on the fact that, in the Pasuk "And I will remember My covenant with Ya'akov
Yitzchak and Avraham", the Rokei'ach points out that the last letters of the Avos are 'Beis, Kuf and Mem', which is the equivalent of 'Shakai' in the Gematriyah known as 'Atbash'. And since 'Beis' is the last letter of "Ya'akov", 'Kuf', of Yitzchak and 'Mem', of Avraham, which is the correct order of the corresponding Shakai, the Torah presents them in this order. See also Ba'al ha'Turim Bechukosai, 26:42).
A '*Pizmon*, generally the third of the day's special set of Sl'ichos, is so called, says the P'ri Megadim, because it is cried out in unison by the congregation in a loud voice (at least, that is how it is supposed to be recited), and the Targum Yonasan translates the words in Iyov "And Iyov cried out" as - "u'*Pazim*Iyov".
Sorry, I Don't Understand Arama'ic
The reason that we say 'Machnisei Rachamim' (each morning towards the end of S'lichos') in Lashon ha'Kodesh, even though the surrounding S'lichos are said in Arama'ic, is because, as the Gemara in Shabbos explains, 'The Angels do not speak Arama'ic.
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THE TWO HAFTAROS ON ROSH HASHANAH
ON THE FIRST DAY OF ROSH HASHANAH , WE READ THE PARSHAH OF SARAH IMEINU, WHO WAS BARREN, AND WHOSE PRAYERS WERE ANSWERED ON ROSH HASHANAH, WHEN SHE CONCEIVED AND SUBSEQUENTLY GAVE BIRTH TO YITZCHAK. IT IS THEREFORE APPROPRIATE THAT THE HAFTARAH TOO, TEACHES US HOW CHANAH, WHO WAS BARREN TOO, MERRITED TO HAVE HER PRAYERS ANSWERED ON ROSH HASHANAH, WHEN JUST LIKE SARAH IMEINU, SHE CONCEIVED AND SUBSEQUENTLY GAVE BIRTH TO SHMUEL. IN ADDITION, WE MIGHT SAY, THE CONDUIT VIA WHICH G-D REMEMBERS US ON ROSH HASHANAH IS TEFILAH, AND IT IS FROM CHANAH THAT THE GEMARA IN B'RACHOS LEARNS MANY OF THE FUNDEMANTALS OF PRAYER.
WHAT IS NOT SO EASY TO SEE IS WHY, ON THE SECOND DAY, WE READ THE HAFTARAH FROM YIRMIYAH ("KOH AMAR HASHEM, MOTZO CHEIN BA'MIDBAR") WHICH, AT FIRST GLANCE, DOES NOT HAVE ANY DIRECT CONNECTION WITH ROSH HASHANAH.
THE AVUDRAHAM EXPLAINS HOWEVER, THAT THE CONNECTION WITH ROSH HASHANAH LIES IN THE PESUKIM OF REMEMBRANCE AT THE END OF THE HAFTARAH, (WHICH WE ACTUALLY MENTION AMONG THE PESUKIM THAT WE RECITE IN ZICHRONOS OF MUSAF). INDEED, THE ENTIRE HAFTARAH HAS OVERTONES OF G-D REMEMBRING K'LAL YISRAEL FOR THE GOOD.
AND JUST AS WE ADDED THE LESSON OF PRAYER TO THE HAFTARAH OF THE FIRST DAY, SO TOO, CAN WE ADD THAT OF TEARS TO THE HAFTARAH OF THE SECOND, WHICH CLEARLY INFORMS US THAT RACHEL IMEINU'S PRAYERS FOR HER CHILDREN IN GALUS WERE ANSWERED IN CONJUNCTION WITH HER TEARS. FOR, SO CHAZAL HAVE TAUGHT, THAT EVEN WHEN THE GATES OF PRAYER ARE CLOSED, THE GATES OF TEARS ARE OPEN - ALWAYS!
FINALLY, TO UNDERSTAND THE CORROLARY BETWEEN THE HAFTARAHS OF THE TWO DAYS OF ROSH HASHANAH, WE NEED TO REMEMBER THAT, ON ROSH HASHANAH, IT IS BOTH THE INDIVIDUAL THAT PASSES BEFORE G-D IN JUDGEMENT, AND THE COMMUNITY AT LARGE. THAT BEING THE CASE, IF ON THE FIRST DAY OF ROSH HASHANAH, WE READ A HAFTARAH THAT REMINDS US HOW G-D REMEMBERS THE INDIVDUAL FOR THE GOOD, THEN ON THE SECOND DAY, WE READ ABOUT HOW HE REMEMBERS THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY FOR THE GOOD, TOO.
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Highlights from the Ba'al ha'Turim
(from Parshas Emor)
"Shabbason zichron Teru'ah" (23:24).
The Torah writes "zichron Teru'ah" with regard to Rosh Hashanah that falls on Shabbos, when we only mention the blowing of the Shofar, but do not actually blow. They did however, blow on Shabbos in the Beis-Hamikdash, and this is hinted in the words in the Pasuk "Tik'u Shofar Be'Tziyon" (Yo'el 2:1) whose first letters spell 'Shabbos'.
The word "zichron" appears three times in T'nach: 1. here; 2. Ein zichron lo'rishonim (Koheles 1:11); 3. Ki ein zichron le'Chacham im ha'k'sil" (Ibid 2:16).
These are symbolical of the three Books that are open before G-d on Rosh Hashanah. The latter two, which are preceded by the word "ein", are written with reference to the Tzadikim and the Resha'im, who are written and sealed in the Book immediately (one on the Book of Life, the other in the Book of Death), and will not need to be remembered again on Yom Kipur; whereas the first one ("Zichron Teru'ah"), refers to the Beinonim, who will be remembered on Yom Kipur, either to be entered in the Book of Life or in the Book of Death, depending on whether he has performed Teshuvah or not.
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Thoughts from the Rosh Hashanah Amidah
(Adapted from the Sidur Iyun Tefilah)
'And so the Tzadikim will see and rejoice
At first glance, comments the Dover Sholom, it is not clear the Tzadikim (the Yesharim and the Chasidim) will see and over what they will rejoice.
Evidently, he concludes, this paragraph refers to the previous one. The Tzadikim will see the Honour which G-d will bestow upon K'lal Yisrael, as well the other good things mentioned there (praise to those who fear Him
He also defines the three levels Tzadikim, Yesharim and Chasidim as - those who simply perform all the Mitzvos, those whose every action is for the sake of G-d, and those who go beyond the letter of the law, respectively.
'Ki Sa'avir Memsheles Zodon min ho'Oretz'
for the wicked kingdom will pass from the land'.
Most commentaries interpret this with reference to the Kingdom of Rome (incorporating the evil regimes who have and who are subjugating us to this day).
The Iyun Tefilah however, maintains that this Tefiilah is referring (not to any specific nation, but rather) to evil per se. Consequently, he explains, it refers to the Yeitzer ha'Ra, who will be deprived of the ability to cause people to sin.
It seems to me that, bearing in mind Chazal's equation of the Yeitzer ha'Ra, the Satan and the Mal'ach ha'Maves, alias Sama'el, the Angel of Edom (Rome), the two are one and the same. Once G-d destroys Samael, the Yietzer ha'Ra will no longer be able to operate.
've'Simloch Atah Hashem Levadecho
'And you Hashem, will reign alone
It is the powers of evil (the kingdom of Rome and the Yeitzer ha'Ra) that block G-d's sovereignty, preventing it from pervading the entire world. Once it is removed, the Iyun Tefilah, there will be nothing to prevent it from spreading its rays throughout the world - with its seat of rulership in Tziyon and Yerushalayim - forever.
'Kodosh Atoh ve'Noro Sh'mecho
'You are holy and Your Name is awesome
This is based on the Pasuk in Tehilim "Kodosh ve'Noro Sh'mo" (He is Holy and His Name is Awesome), says the Eitz Yosef.
He explains that part of Uniquness lies in the fact that He alone is intrinsically holy, as opposed to the holiness that is attributed to the angels and to Yisrael is a Divinely granted attribute (but not intrinsic). In fact, he explains, it is a borrowed term.
And he further points out that G-d's awesomeness extends to the angels.
've'Ein Elokah mi'Bal'odecho'
and there is no God besides You'.
In effect, says the Eitz Yosef, this is akin to saying that there is no power other than G-d.
We know for example, that this world is governed by the sun, the moon and the constellations, whilst they in turn, are governed by the angels. Yet it is a fallacy to believe that the angels wield any power whatsoever; for they are governed entirely by G-d Himself. It therefore transpires that He is the sole Governor, and that there is literally no governor besides Him. And this what is meant by the term "Elokei ho'Elokim" (that we mention a number of times in Davenning) - the sun, the moon and the constellations may well be powers that govern all who are below them; The ultimate power however, is G-d, who governs them.
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