Erev Shabbos Kodesh Rosh HaShanah-Haazinu Inspiration 5775


Chag Kosher Visameach! Did I say that right? Well, it’;s not Pesach tonight, but some things that we do prior to Rosh HaShanah and on Rosh HaShanah sure seem reminiscent of Pesach. Let’s take, for example, the custom of those who fast half the day on Erev Rosh HaShanah. The Tur cites a Medrash that states that fasting prior to Rosh HaShanah, on Tzom Gedalyah and on Yom Kippur is analogous to a country that sends three groups of people to appease the king. Similarly, on Erev Rosh HaShanah the adults fast to appease HaShem and so on.

Perhaps there is another aspect to today’s fast. The Sforno (Devarim 26:13) writes that the confession of Maasros is that we lament how the service in the Baisi HaMikdash was supposed to be performed by the firstborn, and on account of the sin of the Golden Calf, the firstborn were replaced by the Leviim. Thus, we see that we always need to be cognizant of “the first.” We can suggests, therefore, that prior to this first day of Tishrei and the first day of the year, we fast to lament how the firstborn should have been the ones serving HaShem. We too, firstborn or not, have the opportunity every moment to be the first, be it the first to Shul, the first to open a Sefer and study HaShem’s Holy Torah, the first to recognize someone in need, and the list goes on and on.

Tonight we eat the Simanim, the signs that are represented by various fruits such as the apple, the pomegranate and even some “rookie” fruits, i.e. fruits that have not graced our table all year round. These first fruits reflect the desire of every Jew to be first, and in the words of the Baal HaTurim, all firsts are holy. There is more to say about the connection between Pesach and Rosh HaShanah, but let us suffice for now with the statement of the Gemara (Rosh HaShanah 10b) that Yosef was released from jail on Rosh HaShanah, a mini redemption in itself, and according to Rabbi Yehoshua (Ibid 11a) the Jewish People will be redeemed in the month of Tishrei.

Let this Rosh HaShanah be a great day of firsts for the Jewish People and HaSHem should allow us to merit the Ultimate Redemption, speedily, today!

Have a Ksiva Vachasima Tova and a gut Gebentched Yohr with all the brachos possible!

Have a great First Shabbos!

Rabbi Adler

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Shabbos Nitzvaim-Vayeilech Inspiration 5774


In this week’s parasha of Nitzvaim we find an interesting passuk that states (Devarim 30:5) וֶהֱבִיאֲךָ יְ-ה-וָ-ה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר יָרְשׁוּ אֲבֹתֶיךָ וִירִשְׁתָּהּ וְהֵיטִבְךָ וְהִרְבְּךָ מֵאֲבֹתֶיךָ, HaShem, your G-d, will bring you to the Land that your forefathers possessed and you shall posses it; He will do good to you and make you more numerous than your forefathers. Why is it necessary for the Torah to say that HaShem make you more numerous than your forefathers? While we always praise HaShem for taking us from our small and humble beginnings and transforming us into a populous nation, it would almost seem to be a disparagement to our forefathers that HaShem has made us more numerous than them.

I would like to suggest a possible answer to this question and HaShem gave me the merit to find an identical answer in the Kli Yakar ad loc. The word מֵאֲבֹתֶיךָ can be interpreted  to mean that we merit our numbers from our forefathers, i.e. through their holiness and exalted spiritual level. We must always remember that even if we have scaled the heights of spirituality, everything that we accomplish is in the merit of our forefathers. Indeed, we can explain the term ראש השנה to mean that we look to our heads, i.e. our forefathers to ensure that we have a good year.

We should all merit a כתיבה וחתימה טובה and a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Have a Fabulous Last Shabbos of the Year!

Rabbi Adler

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Shabbos Ki Savo Inspiration 5774


Baruch HaShem my daughter got engaged this week to a fine boy in Eretz Yisroel so this is a wonderful opportunity to talk about gratitude and Eretz Yisroel. This week’s parasha begins with exactly that topic. Bikkurim is about showing gratitude to HaShem for the first fruits. It is noteworthy that the Mishna (Rosh HaShanah 16a) states that on Shavuos we are judged on the fruits of the tree.  What is the connection between Shavuos and fruits of the tree? The Gemara (Pesachim 68b) states that on Shavuos everyone agrees that one must indulge in food and drink,  as on Shavuos we received the Torah. Rashi writes that by partaking in food and drink, we demonstrate that we are satisfied that we received the Torah on this day. What greater expression of gratitude can we offer HaShem than declaring that we are satisfied and willing to receive His Torah?

Now we can understand the connection between Shavuos and the fruits of the tree. Shavuos is  a day when we express our gratitude, similar to the mitzvah of Bikkurim where one expresses his gratitude to HaShem for the bounty of the field.

HaShem should allow us to recognize the good in every aspect of our lives and may we share many simchos and brachos until the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days.

Have a grateful Shabbos

Rabbi Adler

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Shabbos Ki Seitzei Inspiration 5774


The Rishonim (Baal HaTurim, Rokeach) explain the juxtaposition of the words at the end of last week’s parasha that states (Devarim 21:9) כִּי תַעֲשֶׂה הַיָּשָׁר בְּעֵינֵי יְ-ה-וָ-ה, when you do what what is upright in the eyes of HaShem, and this week’s parasha begins with the discussion of going out to battle and seeing a beautiful woman. It is noteworthy that the Torah ends last weeks parasha with the idea of doing what is upright in HaShem’s eyes and this week’s parasha commences with one who will “see” amongst the captives a beautiful woman. The Gemara (Chulin 17b) already introduces us to the idea that upon conquering and dividing Eretz Yisroel, the Jewish People were permitted to eat pork.

While simply understood as a dispensation for war time, it is clear that the conquest of Eretz Yisroel was on a higher spiritual plane, as is evidenced from the two species encounter with Rachav, a noted harlot in the Land of Canaan. Thus, the permit to eat pork and to take a beautifull woman from the captives was not a license to sin. Rather, these dispensations were more along the lines of a reward to the Jewish People, akin to the Messianic Era when according to some opinions observance of the Torah’s’ commandments will not be required (See Ramban Devarim 6:10 for further elaboration). Thus, the Torah here is teaching us that when the Jewish People do what is right in the eyes of HaShem, they will merit to see beyond the physical world and they will be allowed to indulge in activities that are normally forbidden.

In the reality that we live in today, we are at times privy to see HaShem’s wonders, and it would behoove us to discover the rewards that HaShem bestows upon us. The fact that we can perform the mitzvah of teshuvah, an ideal that is beyond human logic, should inspire us to utilize the days of Elul and the upcoming Yomim Noraim to repent from past misdeeds and anticipate a glorious future of closeness to HaShem and the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days.

Have a spiritually eye-opening Shabbos!

Rabbi Adler

 

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Shabbos Shoftim Inspiration 5774


Judges and officers, kings and battles. There’s an expression that “all is fair in love and war.” While I’m not sure who made up that statement, let’s see if it holds true for this week’s parasha. Regarding war, we see clearly that the is not the case. The Torah provides exemptions for various situations, including someone who betrothed a woman and did not marry her. So much for all is fair in war. Now for the love part. The Torah is worried that someone who goes out to war and has not married his betrothed will die in battle and this is deemed disheartening to the person. Although the person is dead and we should no longer be concerned for his feelings, the Torah is concerned for his feelings from the time that he becomes  engaged until he goes out to battle. So we see that all is not fair in love either. Now that we have debunked the expression, let us briefly examine the Torah’s concern here.

What is war all about anyway? In some cases a war is to secure the homeland and to deter enemies from invading. In other instances war is to conquer other lands and to benefit from the spoils. The Torah’s approach is that only the righteous should go out to battle, and someone who fears for his sins must return. In order to camouflage the sinners, the Torah instructs the warriors to examine their different situations and determine if they will feel and going out to war. This is truly incredible. Even at a time of war we are concerned with the feelings of a Jew. We can now understand better why preceding and following the laws of the battlefield the Torah discusses the role of the judges, the kings and the elders. 

Regarding Eglah Arufah, where someone dies between cities and the murderer is not known, the elders of the city must declare that they did not spill the deceased’s blood. The Gemara states that this means that the elders declare that they did not allow the deceased to leave the city without food and without escorting him. Yes, indeed, the Torah is concerned for the feelings of every person, and we express these feelings even after someone is already dead and the elders had nothing to do with his death. Ultimately, we are responsible for each other in life and after life.

HaShem should give us all long and healthy lives with the opportunities to study Torah, perform mitzvos and really and truly care about our fellow Jews.

Have a joyous Shabbos!

Rabbi Adler

 

 

 

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Shabbos Re’eh Inspiration 5774


What do we need to do to earn HaShem’s blessing? The Torah tells us in the beginning of this week’s parasha that all we have to do is to listen to the mitzvos that HaShem is commanding us today. Is that really all we have to do? If we listen to the mitzvos, then we get a great reward? How can that be? Certainly we have to fulfill the mitzvos. Why is merely listening to the mitzvos sufficient to receive a reward?

Lets us take a look at last week’s parasha (always good to review) and we will find the answer. It is said (Devarim 11:13) וְהָיָה אִם שָׁמֹעַ תִּשְׁמְעוּ אֶל מִצְוֹתַי אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם הַיּוֹם לְאַהֲבָה אֶת יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם וּלְעָבְדוֹ בְּכָל לְבַבְכֶם וּבְכָל נַפְשְׁכֶם, it will be that if you hearken to My commandments that I command you today, to love HaShem, your G-d, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul. The word שמע usually connotes listening, but we find that it is said (Shmuel I 15:4) וַיְשַׁמַּע שָׁאוּל אֶת הָעָם, Shaul had all the people summoned, so we see that the word שמע also means to gather. Rashi (Devarim 11:13) writes that the double term of teaches us that if one listen to the old, he will merit listening to the new. It is quite amazing that this is one of the only instances in the Torah where the word מצוה appears twice (I found another instance in Vayikra 7:38). Perhaps the Torah is teaching us the rule of מצוה גוררת מצוה, one mitzvah leads to another mitzvah. if one “hard” one mitzvah, he should rush to hear another mitzvah, and in this manner he will gather many mitzvos for his credit. Indeed, the Medrash (Yalkut Mishlei 20) states that if one, Heaven forbid, performed many sins, he should amass many mitzvos to negate the mitzvos.

Back in our parasha we can suggest that the blessing is found in the mitzvos, but even more significantly, in the way we treat the mitzvos. If we rush to amass mitzvos, and perform the mitzvos, we will certainly see blessing in our lives. The Zohar states that although the Jewish People nullified the נעשה, the “we will do” of accepting the Torah, they should still be careful regarding the נשמע, the hearing of the mitzvos. HaShem should allow us to merit hearing and amassing His Holy Mitzvos, and in that merit we should merit the rebuilding of the Bais HaMikdash and the mitzvah of settling Eretz Yisroel, with the Ultimate Redemption, speedily, in our days.

Have a mitzvah-filled Shabbos and a Good Chodesh!

Rabbi Adler

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Shabbos Eikev Inspiration 5774


Everyone wants to receive a 100 on a test. A 98? Also works, no? This week’s parasha has a few themes of 100 and 98. It is said (Devarim 10:!2) וְעַתָּה יִשְׂרָאֵל מָה יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ שֹׁאֵל מֵעִמָּךְ, and now, Israel, what does HaShem ask of you, only to fear. The Baal HaTurim writes as follows: מה בא”ת ב”ש י”ץ ששואל ממך ק’ ברכות בכל יום ויום ויש בפסוק ק’ אותיות (ע’ מנחות מג) וכן ממך עולה ק’., the word מה in א”ת ב”ש is י”ץ, which equals 100, as HaShem request of you 100 blessings every day. The verse contains 100 letters and the word ממך (In Micha 6:8) equals 100.

It is noteworthy that it is said earlier (Ibid 7:15) וְהֵסִיר יְהוָה מִמְּךָ כָּל חֹלִי , and HaShem will remove from you all sickness. We can interpret this verse as follows: HaShem will remove כָּל חֹלִי, which equals 98, if you “מִמְּךָ,” recite 100 daily blessings. The 98 alludes to the 98 curses in the Tochacha, the rebuke in Parshas Ki Savo. How do we avoid punishments and curses? When we recite 100 daily blessings and find a way to praise HaShem even in the bad times, then we can be guaranteed to earn a 100 on the test.

Have a 100% delightful Shabbos!

Rabbi Adler

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