by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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OROH V'SIMCHOH - MESHECH CHOCHMOH ON SHABBOS ROSH HASHONOH 5763 BS"D
Vayikroh Ch. 23, v. 24: "Bachodesh hashvii b'echod lachodesh y'h'yeh lochem shaboson zichrone t'ruoh" - The gemara R.H. 16b says that any year in which there is no shofar blowing at the beginning negative things will happen by the end of that year, because satan has not been confounded. Tosfos d.h. "she'ein" says in the name of the Baal Halochos G'dolos that the gemara does not mean that the shofar was not blown because Rosh Hashonoh fell on Shabbos and the Rabbinical decree to not blow was the cause for not blowing. Rather, the shofar was not blown because of not having a valid one or the like, something beyond the people's control, or surely by virtue of negligence.
This deserves an explanation. Although we know that "o'ness," a happening beyond our control, is not considered as if it were done when transgressing a negative command, and also does not give us credit for fulfilling a positive mitzvoh, as it was nevertheless not done, but why is there justifiably room for punishment for not doing the mitzvoh, since it was beyond our control?
The MESHECH CHOCHMOH explains that the sounding of the shofar is different from other positive mitzvos. The sounding of the shofar brings our remembrance in front of Hashem in a positive fashion, and it is similar to atonement on Yom Kippur. (Perhaps we can add that the Holy Zohar (parshas Emor) says that when the shofar is sounded Hashem gets up from His throne of stringent judgment and seats Himself on His throne of clemency.) We can thus equate the sounding of the shofar to medicine taken by an ill person. If by circumstances beyond his control the medicine goes missing, although he is not to blame, nevertheless, the medicine was not ingested and the health disorder was not treated.
Similarly, without the sounding of the shofar we are lacking this most crucial medium for invoking Hashem's mercy, and satan's accusations and condemnations remain. (See Sha"ch on Ch.M. #21.) If so, how do we differentiate between not blowing the shofar because of circumstances beyond our control and not doing so because of protecting the sanctity of Shabbos? In either case we lack the elixir of "t'kias shofar"?
What is the "magic" of the shofar? The gemara R.H. 16a says that sounding a RAM'S horn brings the merit of the total self-negation of Yitzchok and his total subordination to Hashem's will, a trait which we have inherited. We likewise have accepted the lot of being tormented, shamed, beaten, and slaughtered by the heathen nations of the world for our clinging to Hashem's Torah. This is the merit of the "a'keidoh," symbolized by the "replacement" ram whose horn we sound. Our unbridled love for and commitment to Hashem propel us to forsake all the "perceived" advantages in pursuing the ephemeral pleasures of this fleeting world. This is a two-way love, expressed in our tefillin containing verses of our thanks to Hashem for all He has done for us, and likewise, Hashem's tefillin contain verses of praise for His beloved nation (gemara Brochos 6a). Similarly, Hashem exhorts us to take revenge for the honour of the bnei Yisroel against Midyon (Bmidbar 31:2), while Moshe delivers this message as a call to arms for Hashem's honour (verse 3).
Given the knowledge of the monumental accomplishments of sounding the shofar on the awesome day of judgment to bring us into the pale of merciful judgment, it would seem to be a most tragic folly to push off this mitzvoh for any reason. Yet, when Rosh Hashonoh falls on Shabbos and there is the remote fear that one among millions of bnei Yisroel might carry his shofar through the public domain, a desecration of Shabbos, the Rabbis ruled that the whole nation should forego the advantages of sounding the shofar. Why?! Shabbos testifies to Hashem's creating the world and being Master over it, and our being His committed subjects. Our Rabbis have decided that no matter what the cost, even to forego the sounding of the shofar, to allow satan to condemn us, we must do all that is within our power to avoid even an accidental desecration of Shabbos, which is in turn a desecration of Hashem's Holy Name, so great is our love of Hashem.
In truth, all the nations of the world should practice a ritual that testifies to Hashem's creating the world. Yet, only the bnei Yisroel do this, and to the maximum degree, as demonstrated by restraining from sounding the shofar on Rosh Hashonoh. This unbridled love of Hashem is the greatest dramatization of our personal "a'keidoh" to sanctify His Holy Name! This brings about appeasement of Hashem and as easily as the sounding of the shofar itself, counters satan's accusations and condemnations.
SHONOH TOVOH UMSUKOH. TOCHEIL SHONOH UVIRCHO'SEHOH.
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