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SEPTEMBER 14-21, 2001 27 ELUL 5761

- Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

When Moshe Rabenu went up to get the Torah, the heavenly angels protested, "How can a human being receive the holy Torah?" Hashem told Moshe to hold onto the Heavenly Throne and give them an answer (Teshubah). Moshe proceeded to explain how the Torah can only be for mortal beings as it says in the Ten Commandments, "Do not steal, kill, etc.," which only apply to humans. The word Teshubah, which literally means "answer," also refers to the concept of Teshubah, repentance. The angels were really asking, "How can a human, who can sin and fall, receive the Torah, which is holy and spiritual?" The answer is Teshubah, repentance. The Jew who stumbles and sins has an amazing opportunity to return to Hashem. This concept of Teshubah is so great that it can reach the Heavenly Throne, and that's why Moshe held on to the Throne, to symbolize the power of Teshubah.

During the holiday season, Teshubah is in the air. May we grasp it and reach the Heavenly Throne and may all the suffering in the land of Israel stop. May we all be inscribed in the Book of Life, Health and Happiness. Tizku Leshanim Rabot.

- Rabbi Reuven Semah

"It shall be a day of shofar-sounding for you" (Bemidbar 29:1)

The essence of Rosh Hashanah is directly connected to the misvah of sounding the shofar. On the holiday we have an abundance of verbal prayer and we have the shofar, which is a wordless blast. The Sefer Va'ani Tefillah gives us a simple parable to understand the difference between our prayers and the shofar.

A hungry child comes home and calls out, "Mommy, I'm hungry!" The mother responds by giving him something to eat. If he announces, "I'm thirsty!" he receives a glass of water. But if the poor little boy is hungry, thirsty, cold, tired and has a bleeding finger, he can't enumerate all his needs and pains. He unleashes one long wail, "M-O-M-M-Y!" The mother intuitively understands her child's many needs and rushes to offer food and water, a sweater and a Band-Aid.

Likewise, on Rosh Hashanah we have so much to ask for - pardon for the year 's sins, requests for life, health and prosperity for the year ahead, requests for redemption, and the return of the Shechinah, and so much more. Hashem tells us, "Blow the shofar, and I, your devoted Father, will comprehend and accept all the unarticulated prayers, both for each individual and for the Jewish nation as a whole.

May I take this opportunity to wish all of the members of our community a wonderful new year full of health, happiness, prosperity and long awaited coming of the Mashiah, Amen. Tizku Leshanim Rabot.


"For the matter is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart that you may do it" (Debarim 30:14)

There is a Midrash on the above pasuk which is particularly relevant for this time of year. Everyone is seeking areas in which to improve. The Midrash tells us that Eliyahu Hanabi related that he was once traveling from region to region, when he came across a man who sneered at him. Eliyahu was taken aback and immediately questioned the individual, "What will you respond to Hashem on the Day of Judgment? The man quickly responded, "I have a simple answer to give my Father in Heaven. I will tell Him that I was not given sufficient understanding or intelligence to allow me to master the Humash and Talmud."

This answer did not faze Eliyahu Hanabi who retorted, "My son, what is your profession?" "I am a fisherman," responded the young man. "And who gave you the ability to learn how to weave flax into nets, and then throw them into the sea to catch fish?" "Oh Rabbi," he replied, "for that I was given understanding and intellect from Heaven."

When Eliyahu heard this hypocritical remark, he admonished the young man saying, "My son, if Hashem gave you the mind and intelligence to master your chosen profession, He also gave you intellectual ability to master the words of the Torah, as it is written, 'the matter is very close to you.'" How true are the words of this Midrash. Everyone finds an excuse for his "inactivity" in Torah study. One's activity in his chosen occupation, however, bears testimony against him! We find methods to master the most difficult problems, to understand the most detailed computer program, but the "piece of Gemara" is simply "too complex" to master! Suddenly, the only boys who can make it in Torah learning are the exceptionally bright ones. The words of the Midrash rebound. If you can "make it" in any profession you can "make it" in Torah study as well. (Peninim on the Torah)


This week's Haftarah: Yishayahu 61:10 - 63:9.

This haftarah is the last of the series of seven haftarot which discussed consolation. Hashem says that He was always with Israel in its exile, and always shares in their suffering. He will take vengeance on Edom, and bring us back from our exile.

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