Erev Shabbos Kodesh Shabbos Chol HaMoed-Shemini Atzeres-Vezos Habracha 5777 Inspiration

We have mentioned in the past that the sefarim point out the difference between Rosh HaShanah and Pesach. On Rosh Hashanah we go to the water and cast away our sins, whereas on Pesach we go to the water and draw up water, known as מים שלנו. On Rosh HaShanah, we are performing תשובה מיראה, repentance out of fear, so זדונות נעשו לו כשגגות, our wanton sins are transformed to unintentional sins (See Yoma 86b). On Pesach, however, we perform תשובה מאהבה, so זדונות נעשו לו כזכיות, one’s wanton sins are transformed to merits.

It follows that subsequent to the Yomim Noraim we begin the progression to repentance out of love. This process commences with the שמחת בית השואיבה, the joy of the Drawing of Water that took place all seven days of sukkos in the Bais HaMikdash. They drew the water from the Waters of Shiloach to use for ניסוך המים, the water libations on the Mizbeiach. This ceremony was performed with much joy and dancing. Furthermore, the dancing, juggling of fire and other festive acts were only performed by the pious Jews of that period. It is noteworthy that the word שאבים, drawing, equals in gematria the word שמחה, joy as the Gemara (Sukkah ) states one who did not witness the joy of the שמחת בית השואיבה did not witness true joy in his life. Following these seven days of joy is Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah, when our joy is elevated to rejoice with the completion of the Torah. The following story illustrates clearly how the joy that Jews experience with each other can transcend even the harsh judgements of the Yomim Noraim.

A chasid once traveled to Lublin to spend the yamim noraim with the Chozeh of Lublin.  When it was his turn to introduce himself, he was shocked when the Chozeh told him to go home right away. Thinking that he misunderstood, the chasid presented himself the next day.

“What?  You’re still here,” the Rebbi exclaimed, “I told you to go home.”  Deeply dejected, the chasid set out on his journey home.   On the way, he stopped at an inn to spend the night.  There he met a group of Chasidim traveling to the Chozeh.   After a few rounds of l’chaim, the Chasidim started to dance, drawing the chasid into their circle.  Round and round they went, joyfully singing Hashem’s praises.  Gradually, the chasid’s gloom turned into simcha.  At the height of their ecstasy, the Chasidim turned to him, “Come on back with us to the Rebbi.”  The chasid decided to give it another try.  Perhaps the Chozeh would welcome him this time. To his great surprise, the Chozeh was delighted to see him, embracing him warmly, the Chozeh declared, “A Rebbi cannot accomplish the miracles Chasidim achieve through simcha.”  He went on to explain, “When you came to me the first time, I saw Heaven had decreed that you will die shortly.  I sent you home because I did not want you to die here on yom tov, but because of your simcha, you caused the Heavenly decree to be annulled,” and indeed the chasid lived until a ripe, old age.

The Skulener Rebbe said, “This story represents the underlying story of Simchas Torah.  After our intense prayers of the yamim noraim and after the decree was sealed, we dance on Simchas Torah, for even if the decree was not favorable, it is possible to reverse it and change it into goodness and blessing through the power of simcha.”

We should merit serving HaShem with much joy and happiness, and we should merit the true joy of ושמחתים בבית תפילתי, I will gladden them in My House of Prayer, with the building of the Bais HaMikdash and the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days.

Have a JOYOUS Shabbos, Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah!

Rabbi Adler

Erev Shabbos Kodesh Shabbos Chol HaMoed-Shemini Atzeres-Vezos Habracha 5777 Inspiration

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Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Shabbos Chol HaMoed-Shemini Atzeres-Vezos Habracha 5777



Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Shabbos Chol HaMoed-Shemini Atzeres-Vezos Habracha 5777

Moshe Broke the Luchos to Demonstrate that the World Needs the Jewish People


This coming week we will complete the reading of the Torah and celebrate Simchas Torah. We finish the Torah with the reading of Parashas Vizos Habrachah and we commence the new Torah cycle reading with the reading of Parashas Bereishis. The commentators go to great lengths to explain the connection between the last verse in the Torah and the first verse in the Torah. The last verses in the Torah state (Devarim 34:10-12) velo kam navi od biYisroel kiMoshe asher yidao HaShem panim el panim lechol haosos vihamofsim asher shilacho HaShem lassos bieretz Mitzrayim liPharaoh ulechol avadav ulechol artzo ulechol hayad hachazakah ulechol hamora hagadol asher asah Moshe lieieni kol Yisroel, never again has there arisen in Israel a prophet like Moshe, whom HaShem had known face to face, as evidenced by all the signs and wonders that HaShem sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his courtiers and all his land, and by all the strong hand and awesome power that Moshe performed before the eyes of all Israel. Rashi explains that these verses refer to Moshe accepting the Luchos from HaShem and subsequently breaking them upon witnessing the Golden Calf that the Jewish People had created. One must wonder why the Torah lauds Moshe for breaking the Luchos. Moshe was justified in breaking the Luchos, as he expounded a kal vachomer as follows: if the Torah states that one who is an idolater cannot participate in the Korban Pesach, then certainly where the Jewish People worshipped an idol, they cannot accept the entire Torah (Rashi Shemos 32:19). Nonetheless, why is this act deemed to be so praiseworthy?

Why Does the Torah Commence with Bereishis?

Prior to answering this question, let us examine the first verse in the Torah and Rashi’s comments there. It is said (Bereishis 1:1) Bereishis bara Elokim es hashamayim vieis haaretz, in the beginning of G-d’s creating the heavens and the earth. Rashi poses a famous question. Why did the Torah commence with the story of creation and not with the first mitzvah that the Jewish people received, which was the commandment to sanctify the New Moon? Rashi answers that HaShem wished to demonstrate His power to the nations of the world. Were the nations to claim that the Jewish People stole the Land of Israel, we would be able to respond that HaShem created the world and He gave the Land to those that He felt deserving. The Pinei Menachem, the Gerrer Rebbe, wonders about Rashi’s question. How could Rashi state that the Torah should have commenced with the mitzvah of sanctifying the New Moon, if there were other mitzvos that preceded this mitzvah, such as the mitzvah of procreation, circumcision and Gid Hanasheh. Furthermore, it was necessary to first write about creation so that we could have a basis for matters of faith such as the mitzvah of Shabbos.

The Jewish People Have the Power to Manipulate Nature

The Pinei Menachem answers that the world was created according to the plan contained within the Torah. HaShem gave the Jewish People the power to manipulate nature and to demonstrate how HaShem is contained within nature. The essence of the mitzvah of sanctifying the New Moon is that the Jew can take something mundane and declare it holy. Similarly, although Shabbos is a fixed time every week, the Jewish People were given the opportunity to add on to Shabbos with what is known as Tosefes Shabbos, adding on to the Shabbos. In summary, the mitzvah of sanctifying the New Moon reflects the idea that the Jewish People have the power to direct nature and to transform mundane masters into holiness. It was for this reason that Rashi suggested that the Torah should have commenced with this mitzvah. Based on this premise we can better understand why the Torah praises the fact that Moshe broke the Luchos. One explanation of Moshe’s act was that bitulah zehu kiyumah, annulling the Torah, so to speak, is in essence the Torah’s survival. There is, however, a deeper dimension to the act that Moshe performed. Moshe broke the Luchos to demonstrate to future generations that although the Torah is the blueprint of the world, without the Jewish People the Torah does not have a means with which to be sustained. It is for this reason that the last words of the Torah state lieieni kol Yisroel, before the eyes of all Israel. Moshe specifically broke the Luchos before the eyes of the people so that they should know that the Torah was given specifically to the Jewish People, and without the Jewish People observing the Torah, the Torah cannot survive. The power of Torah is so great, and in a sense, the power of the Jewish People is greater.

The Shabbos Connection

As we begin once again to commence the cycle of the Torah reading, let us bear in mind the great power that HaShem has vested in us. We have the ability to observe the Torah and we are given the opportunity every week to sanctify the Shabbos. We can sanctify the Shabbos on Shabbos, and we also have the ability to add to the Shabbos by sanctifying it during the week. The role of a Jew is to elevate the mundane to become holy. HaShem should allow us to observe His Torah faithfully, and in the merit of observing the Torah and the great mitzvah of Shabbos, we should merit the Ultimate Redemption, speedily, in our days.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Dror Yikra

The composer was Dunash ben Librat, the famed medieval grammarian and paytan who lived from 4680-4750 (920990 C.E.). He was born in Baghdad and, except for twenty years in Fez, lived there his entire life. He was a nephew and disciple of Rabbeinu Saadiah Gaon and was acquainted with many of the Sages of his time. Rashi and Ibn Ezra quote him extensively. His name appears four times as the acrostic of the stiches in stanzas 1,2,3, and 6. This zemer is a prayer to HaShem to protect the Jewish People, destroy its tormentors, and bring the Nation peace and redemption.

נְצוֹר מִצְוַת קְדוֹשֶׁךָ שְׁמוֹר שַׁבָּת קָדְשֶׁךָ, observe the precepts of your Holy One, observe your holy Shabbos. Shabbos is unlike all the other commandments of the Torah, as one can “observe” the other mitzvos but Shabbos the only mitzvah that one can be active in its anticipation. One can anticipate the Shabbos throughout the entire week, by purchasing food that is special for Shabbos and by constantly saying that everything one does is in honor of the Holy Shabbos (one can also prepare for the festivals but one cannot actively prepare the entire week for the mitzvah of Tefillin, Mezuzah etc.).

Shabbos Stories

So Be It!

Reb Yaakov Yosef Katz zt”l (late 1800s; known as the “Toldos”), one of the leading disciples of the Baal Shem Tov, was visiting a certain town when he was approached by an inhabitant of a neighboring village and asked to attend the circumcision of the man’s son on that day. “I will even honor you to be the sandak (godfather),” the villager said. The Toldos agreed, but only on the condition that he could sit in another room and study Torah until all of the preparations had been completed and he would not have to wait idly for the ceremony to begin. The villager agreed. When everything had been prepared and the baby had arrived, the villager went to call Reb Yaakov Yosef. However, when they returned to the place where the bris milah was to be held, the villager was chagrined to discover that one guest had left and there was no longer a minyan. He quickly ran outside and pleaded with the first Jew he saw: “Please come to my son’s bris milah.” The man responded, “Zohl zein azoi,” so be it! “Can I offer you an honor?” the villager inquired. “So be it!” the tenth man responded. To every question he was asked, he answered: “so be it!” After the circumcision, the Toldos asked that this man be brought to him, but the man had vanished. So the Toldos asked in heaven who the man was, and he was told that it was Eliyahu HaNavi, who had been sent to teach the assembled the importance of accepting G-d’s judgment in all circumstances. “So be it!” should be a Jew’s response to everything that he experiences in life. As the Toldos was preparing to leave town, a stranger approached him and asked if he could share the sage’s carriage. “Who are you?” the Toldos asked. “So be it!” the stranger responded (apparently rebuking the sage for not agreeing immediately to share his ride). When the tzaddik Reb Yitzchak Matisyahu Luria zt”l heard this story, he commented: “On each day of Creation, the Torah says, ‘And it was so!’ But why does the Torah say, ‘And it was so!’ at the very end of creation when nothing new had been created?” “That,” answered Rav Luria, was Adam’s statement, accepting that G-d in His Wisdom had created the world exactly as He saw fit. “So be it!” (Quoted in Otzros Tzaddikei Ugeonei Hadoros)

Kick the Ball in the Goal When No One is There!

Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky writes: Rabbi Sholom Schwadron had noticed that one of the students at the yeshiva was missing on Sunday and Monday. Tuesday morning he approached him, inquiring to the reason he missed those two days. “I know you for two years. You never missed a day of yeshiva. I am sure that something important is happening. Please tell me what is going on.” The boy did not want to say, but after prodding, the boy finally blurted out. “I would tell, but Rebbe, you just would not understand.” “Try me,” begged Reb Sholom, “I promise I will try my hardest to appreciate what you tell me.” “Here goes,” responded the student, conceding to himself that whatever explanation he would give would surely be incomprehensible to the Rabbi, who had probably had never seen a soccer ball in his life. “I missed yeshiva because I was at the Maccabi Tel Aviv football (soccer) finals. In fact,” the boy added in embarrassment, “I probably won’t be in yeshiva tomorrow as well. It’s the final day of the championship.” Rabbi Schwadron was not at all condescending. Instead, he furrowed his brow in interest. “I am sure that this game of football must be quite exciting. Tell me,” he asked, “How do you play this game of football? What is the object? How do you win?” “Well,” began the student filled with enthusiasm, “there are eleven players, and the object is to kick a ball into the large goal. No one but the goalkeeper can move the ball with his hands or arms!” Rabbi Schwadron’s face brightened! He knew this young boy was a good student and wanted to accommodate him. “Oh! Is that all? So just go there, kick the ball in the goal, and come back to yeshiva!” The boy laughed. “Rebbe, you don’t understand! The opposing team also has eleven men and a goalkeeper, and their job is to stop our team from getting the ball into their goal!” “Tell me,” Rabbi Schwadron whispered. “These other men on the other team. Are they there all day and night?” “Of course not!” laughed the student. “They go home at night!” What was the Rabbi driving at? He wondered. Rabbi Schwadron huddled close and in all earnest continued with his brilliant plan. “Why don’t you sneak into the stadium in the evening and kick the ball into the goal when they are not looking? Then you can win and return to yeshiva!” The boy threw his hands up in frustration. “Oy! Rebbe! You don’t understand. You don’t score if the other team is not trying to stop you! It is no kuntz to kick a ball into an empty net if there is no one trying to stop you!” “Ah!” cried Reb Sholom in absolute victory. “Now think a moment! Listen to what you just said! It is no kuntz to come to the yeshiva when nothing is trying to hold you back! It is when the urge to skip class is there, when the Yetzer Hara is crouching in the goal, that it is most difficult to score. That is when you really score points. Come tomorrow, and you can’t imagine how much that is worth in Hashem’s scorecard!” Needless to say, the boy understood the message and was there the next day the first in class! (

Shabbos in Halacha

Wringing and Laundering

 Two melachos that pertain to washing dishes and cleaning spills on Shabbos are סחיטה; wringing, and כיבוס: laundering. Previously we discussed sechita as it applies to extracting juice from fruits. Here we will discuss the halachos of wringing liquid from an absorbent fabric. We will also briefly discuss the laws of laundering as applied to common situations.

  1. Activities Affected by These Prohibitions

 Wiping up Spills

To avoid sechita, it is best not to wipe up a large spill, but only to blot the spill with a rag or with paper towels. Due to the decree against saturating, it is forbidden to use a sponge mop or a garment to absorb a spill since one might afterward wring these articles out. However, one may use a towel because nowadays, with the advent of washing machines, most people do not bother to wring out wet towels. This, though, depends on social and economic conditions and may vary from place to place.

Shabbos Ta’am HaChaim: Shabbos Chol HaMoed-Shemini Atzeres-Vezos Habracha 5777

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New Stories Shabbos Chol Hamoed-Shemini Atzeres-Simchas Torah 5777

Dancing with the Torah

A true Simchat Torah story.

by Rabbi Yerachmiel Milstein

He came by my house every six months or so, for a modest contribution to support the immigrant village he helped build in Israel to absorb new arrivals from Russia. His excited, high pitched voice and happy, dancing eyes belied the deep furrows in his brow which were painfully etched by decades of punishment at the hands of the communist authorities for the terrible crime of being an observant Jew in the Soviet Union during the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s.

It became a ritual. I’d ask the diminutive rabbi if he’d like a bite to eat. He would always counter in his Russian accented Yiddish, “Perhaps, just a glass tea.” My wife would serve him a steaming cup of dark orange brew along with a generous slice of home-made cake, both of which seemed to help straighten his sagging shoulders just a bit. Trudging door to door for small donations, it had certainly been awhile since his last square meal.

He looked up at me and smiled broadly. “Did you know there was such a thing as a Cantonist Shul?”

I remembered stories I heard as a child which described some of the darkest, but most heroic days in Jewish history.

They would be kidnapped from their parents’ home, tortured repeatedly until they either accepted Christianity or died of their wounds.

The Cantonists were Jews who from 1825-1840 were forcibly conscripted into the Russian Czar’s army from as early as the age of 10, and obligated to serve for 25 years. The authorities saw it as a corrective, forced assimilation of stubborn Jews into Russian society. They would be kidnapped from their parents’ home, tortured repeatedly until they either accepted Christianity or died of their wounds.

They were starved, beaten and lashed, often with whips fashioned from their own confiscated tefillin. In their malnourished states, the open wounds on their chests and backs would turn septic and many boys, who had heroically resisted renouncing their Judaism for months, would either perish or cave in and consent to the show baptism. The Czar would have only reliable Christian Russians defending the motherland.

To avoid this horrific fate, some parents actually had their sons’ limbs amputated in the forests at the hands of local blacksmiths, and their sons — no longer able bodied — would avoid conscription. Many other children tragically committed suicide rather than convert.

Some 40,000 young Jewish boys were forced into Czar Nicholas’ army, and very few emerged alive as practicing Jews.

Even the brave few survivors who secretly maintained their faith and managed to return to their families 25 years later, by and large found themselves shunned as traitors to Judaism.

“The Cantonists actually did have a shul of their own,” the rabbi continued. “After all, they had nowhere else to go.”

“My grandfather told me that he once attended the Cantonist Shul on Simchat Torah. The Cantonists could dance like Cossacks. They were huge, strong men, and the heavy Torah scrolls would seem like toothpicks in their arms. They effortlessly danced on for hours on end. Although they were looked down upon by other Jews, and they were not very learned and really couldn’t observe the Torah properly, they were nonetheless able to rejoice in their Judaism and celebrate the Torah. It was truly amazing.”

He paused long enough to dip a sugar cube into the still hot tea cup, placed the cube in his mouth and swallowed another long swig of the tea.

“Then for the final hakafah (circuit around the synagogue’s central lectern), the Cantonists, as if on cue, suddenly removed their shirts in unison! With the Torahs held tightly to their bare skin which was covered with the ugliest welts and scars you ever saw, they danced around even more energetically. Their smiles were now giving way to streams of tears as they looked out into the crowd of assembled Jews, as if to say, ‘You may have studied and observed this Torah, but we gave our bodies and our lives for it. The Torah is at least as much ours as it is yours!'”

As he put the tea cup down, he couldn’t hide the tremor in his hand which caused a rattled meeting of cup to saucer.

Wiping away a tear with his napkin, he said, “In democratic America it is so easy. Yet so many say, ‘It’s so hard.’ Go figure.” (

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Haazinu-Sukkos 5777 Inspiration

In this week’s parasha, Haazinu, there is a direct connection to the festival of Sukkos. It is said (Devarim 32:10) יִמְצָאֵהוּ בְּאֶרֶץ מִדְבָּר וּבְתֹהוּ יְלֵל יְשִׁמֹן יְסֹבְבֶנְהוּ יְבוֹנְנֵהוּ יִצְּרֶנְהוּ כְּאִישׁוֹן עֵינוֹ, He discovered him in a desert land, in desolation, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He granted him discernment, He preserved him like the pupil of His eye. The word יְסֹבְבֶנְהוּ forms an acrostic of the words יבנה סוכה בתפארתה, בנין נאה, הושענא והושיעה, (he shall) build a Sukkah in its splendor, a beautiful edifice, save now, I pray, please save us! These words are the essence of Sukkos. We build a Sukkah and pray to HaShem for His protection. When we journeyed in the Wilderness, HaShem protected us from the elements and our enemies. In every generation we require HaShem’s protection.

Why the Sukkah for protection? Would it not be sufficient to pray to HaShem without an edifice? The answer to this question is that we are required to build a Sukkah as a token of gratitude to HaShem for His kindness to us. HaShem does not need our Sukkah to protect us from foreign influences. Rather, the Sukkah is for us to demonstrate our gratitude to Him for all of His kindness.

Have a Great Shabbos and a PROTECTED Sukkos!

Rabbi Adler

Erev Shabbos Kodesh Haazinu-Sukkos 5777 Inspiration
Is sponsored לזכר נשמת האשה החשובה מרת חיה אסתר בת ר’ משה צבי הלוי אוקוליקא ע”ה ת.נ.צ.ב.ה.and as a zechus לרפואה שלימה חיה דינה חביבה בת שושנה בתוך שאר חולי ישראל.
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Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Haazinu-Sukkos 5777



Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Haazinu-Sukkos 5777

The Spiritual Ingathering of Sukkos


This week is Parashas Haazinu and will be followed next week by Sukkos. What is interesting about the association between Haazinu and Sukkos is that Haazinu is basically the end of the Torah, where Moshe informs the Jewish people of what will occur when they do not follow the Torah. In a sense Haazinu is the depiction of the End of Days and the Ultimate Redemption. Sukkos is referred to in the Torah as the Chag Haasif, and the Haftorah that we read on the first day of Sukkos is from Zechariah, where the prophet foretells the arrival of Moshiach and of the celebration of the Sukkos festival. Thus, Sukkos is a time of ingathering, and there are various aspects of ingathering that are reflected in Sukkos. One aspect of ingathering is that Sukkos is the time of the year when the farmers gather in the produce of the harvest, and this is a cause for joy. There is another ingathering, however, and this is the spiritual ingathering that occurs at this time of the year. It is said (Shemos 34:22) vichag Shavuos taaseh lecho bikurei kitzir chitim vichag haasif tekufas hashanah, you shall make the Festival of Weeks with the first offering of the wheat harvest; and the Festival of the Harvest shall be at the changing of the year.

Shemini Atzeres and Yosef

The Sfas Emes (Sukkos) writes that the word tekufas can be interpreted as strength, as Sukkos is the strength of the year. The Sfas Emes writes that Sukkos is the sustenance of the entire year. Let us gain a better understanding of this idea. There are several words that the Torah uses for ingathering. One word is asifah and another word is atzeres. After the seven days of Sukkos we have Shemini Atzeres. The Sfas Emes writes that Shemini Atzeres corresponds to Yosef. It is said (Tehillim 96:12) yaaloz sadai vichol asher bo az yiraneinu kol atzei yaar, the field and everything in it will exult; then all the trees of the forest will sing with joy. The Medrash (Tanchumah Emor § 16) interprets this verse to be alluding to the Four Species that are taken on Sukkos. There is an interesting hint contained within the word atzei. The word atzei is an acrostic for the words tzaddik yesod olam, the righteous one is the foundation of the world. The Sefarim write that Yosef is referred to as tzaddik yesod olam, because Yosef resisted temptation from the wife of Potiphar. Thus, we see a direct association between Yosef and Sukkos. Furthermore, we find that when Yosef was born, his mother Rachel declared (Bereishis 30:23) asaf Elokim es cherpasi, G-d has taken away my disgrace. We find a parallel to this wording when Yehoshua, who was from the tribe of Yosef, circumcised the Jewish People upon entering Eretz Yisroel. It is said (Yehoshua 5:9) vayomer HaShem el Yehoshua hayom galosi es cherpas Mitzrayim meialeichem vayikra shem hamakom hahu Gilgal ad hayom hazeh, HaShem said to Yehoshua, “Today I have rolled away the disgrace of Egypt from upon you.” He named that place Gilgal [Rolling], to this day. Regarding that incident of circumcision, the prophet also uses the term rolling away, which is similar to asifah in the sense that something is being removed or concealed. Thus, we can suggest that Rachel was hinting to the fact that in the future a descendant of Yosef would remove the shame of being uncircumcised from the Jewish People. It can be said that Yosef represents shemiras habris, the guarding of the covenant, and Sukkos is a time of strength that sustains us throughout the year. It is known that shemiras habris is what sustains the Jewish People, and will even be the herald of the Final Redemption.

The Shabbos Connection

In a similar vein, Shabbos is also an ingathering, as according to the Zohar, the blessing of the Shabbos sustains the whole week. Additionally, the Gemara (Shabbos 12a) states that if one visits someone who is ill on Shabbos, he should say Shabbos hi milizok urefuah kerovah lavo, though the Shabbos prohibits us from crying out, may a recovery come speedily. The Meor Anayim (Likuttim) offers a fascinating homiletic interpretation to this statement. He writes that normally one has to gather various herbs to create a medicine. Shabbos, however, is referred to as Shabbos Kallah and incorporates everything. Thus, on Shabbos one does not need to gather herbs from all over, and it is for this reason that the healing comes speedily. In conclusion, we see that Haazinu is the ingathering of the parshiyos of the Torah, Sukkos is the spiritual ingathering that is reflected through shemiras habris, and Shabbos is the time of ingathering that incorporates the week and the entire world within it.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Dror Yikra

The composer was Dunash ben Librat, the famed medieval grammarian and paytan who lived from 4680-4750 (920990 C.E.). He was born in Baghdad and, except for twenty years in Fez, lived there his entire life. He was a nephew and disciple of Rabbeinu Saadiah Gaon and was acquainted with many of the Sages of his time. Rashi and Ibn Ezra quote him extensively. His name appears four times as the acrostic of the stiches in stanzas 1,2,3, and 6. This zemer is a prayer to HaShem to protect the Jewish People, destroy its tormentors, and bring the Nation peace and redemption.

דְּעֵה חָכְמָה לְנַפְשֶׁךָ. וְהִיא כֶתֶר לְרֹאשֶׁךָ, let your soul know Torah, then it will be a crown on  your head. As we approach Sukkos, we can interpret this passage to mean that when one “knows” Torah, i.e. he becomes one with the Torah, as דעת means intimate connection, then the Torah that he studied will be a crown on his head on Simchas Torah.

Shabbos Stories

A Sukkah from the Cemetery

There was once a Karliner chassid who lived in a small town in a small broken down house. This chassid did not have much of anything, but nonetheless he was happy with his lot. Every year when the festival of Sukkos arrived, the chassid would wait until everyone else had built their Sukkos, and he would then go around and ask for whatever they had left over. People would offer him a rotted board or a rusted nail, and it was from these leftovers that he would build his Sukkah. For seven days the chassid would sit in his Sukkah and sing with great joy. Across the field from the chassid lived a very wealthy man. This wealthy man owned the local factory and employed most of the town. The magnate’s house was large, and he did not lack anything in the way of materialism. The wealthy man had everything he could imagine, but he was not happy. In fact, he was more than just not happy. He was really sad and downright miserable. The Sukkah that the wealthy man had built every year was a wonder. The Sukkah was the size of a football field, with an oak table, candelabras and running water. The Sukkah had within it everything one could imagine. Nonetheless, every year the wealthy man sat in his Sukkah, and when he would hear the Karliner chassid singing from across the field, it drove him absolutely crazy. There is nothing that makes a sad person so sad as to meet a happy person, and there is nothing that makes a sad person happier than to meet another sad person. One year as the festival of Sukkos approached, the wealthy man was struck by an idea. The wealthy man approached everyone in his town and told them, “When the Karliner chassid comes around asking for a rotted board or a rusted nail, do not give it to him.” Now when the wealthy man issued such a directive, what was anyone to do? After all, the wealthy man did own the town. Thus, when the chassid requested from the townspeople if they could spare a leftover piece from their Sukkah, the people would just shrug their shoulders, turn their palms up, and shake their heads. “I am sorry,” they would say, “but this year I cannot even spare a rusty nail.” The chassid was rejected by every single person in town and was about to despair of building a Sukkah that year, when suddenly he had a brainstorm. In the town’s cemetery, the people would place wooden planks to serve as tombstones instead of the standard marble or stone tombstones. On the wooden planks was inscribed the words “Here lies..” The chassid knew that there were many wooden planks in the cemetery, so he thought to himself: “certainly there will not be hundreds of people who die in this town over Sukkos. Thus, why would anyone care if I were to borrow a few planks and return them after the holiday?” The day before Sukkos arrived and the wealthy man looked across the field and smiled. This year there was no Sukkah outside the house of the Karliner chassid. Sukkos arrived and the wealthy rich man sat at his oak table in his Sukkah, with his candelabras and everything he could imagine. The wealthy man recited Kiddush in peace and blissful quiet. He then began to eat his fish, still in peace and blissful quiet. Suddenly, from across the field, he heard singing! The wealthy man quickly jumped up! “How can it be?” he wondered aloud. He looked outside and lo and behold, across the field, a shabby Sukkah was propped against the Karliner chassid’s house. The wealthy man ran across the field and burst in on the chassid. “Where did you get the wood for this Sukkah?” the wealthy man exclaimed. The Karliner chassid received the wealthy man with a glowing face. “Shalom Aleichem! Come in! Sit down!” Still standing, the rich man repeated his question, “Where did you get this wood from?” “I will be glad to tell you,” the chassid said, “just come in and sit down.” The wealthy man’s eyes darted to and fro, first gazing at the chassid, and then at the Sukkah, the door, and then back to the chassid. Frowning, the wealthy man at himself on the half broken chair across from the chassid. The Karliner chassid then said to the wealthy man, “please, allow me to tell you a story. Yesterday, I was looking around town for some way to build a Sukkah, and I asked people if they could spare a board or a nail. It was the strangest thing that ever happened to me, as I could not find anything. It seemed like everyone had used up their materials and there was nothing left over. It was already getting late in the afternoon and I was still walking around town without even the first board to use for a Sukkah. Who do you think I should then run into? None other than the Angel of Death!” Upon meeting him, I said, ‘Angel of Death! Shalom Alechem!’ and he said, ‘Alechem Shalom.’ I said, ‘what brings you to town?’ The Angel of Death responded, ‘I just have one more pick up before the holiday comes in.’ I said to the angel of Death, ‘one more pickup, huh? Would you mind if I ask you who it is?’” “Now, you will not believe this,” the Karliner Chassid continued, leaning forward, staring right at the rich man, “but the Angel of Death mentioned your name!” I then said to the Angel of Death, ‘That guy? You came to get that guy? You do not have to bother.’ The Angel of Death asked, ‘I do not have to bother? Why is that?’ I said to the Angel of Death, ‘You do not have to bother, because that guy is so sad, it is like he is already dead.’ The Angel of Death said, ‘He is that sad?’ ‘Yes,’ I responded, he is that sad.’ ‘Well,’ said the Angel of Death, ‘if he is that sad, I guess I do not even have to bother. Thanks for saving me the work!’” “Now,” said the Karliner chassid, “as the Angel of Death was about to leave, I asked him for a little favor. I said to the Angel of Death, ‘Listen, I helped you out, so maybe you can help me out?’ The Angel of Death responded, ‘Sure, what can I do for you?’ I said to the Angel of Death, ‘I really need a Sukkah for the holiday.’ The Angel of Death paused, and then he said, ‘You know, I am not scheduled to return here until after the festival. In the burial society, they have the wooden stakes that they put in a new grave before they put up the headstone. Those are the wooden stakes that say ‘Here Lies… at the top. I am not planning to return here, so you can use those stakes to build your Sukkah.’” “That is exactly what I did,” the chassid said. “In fact, if you look up there, you can see that on each board, it says ‘Here Lies….’” With that, the Karliner chassid burst into a joyous song. The Chassid’s words pierced the wealthy man’s heart like arrows. He began to cry from the depths of his heart. Finally, the wealthy man asked the chassid, “What can I do? I cannot remove the sadness from my heart. Tell me, I have everything, but no joy. And you, who have nothing – from where do you get all this joy?” The chassid responded: “If you want to be joyous, you must go to the holy Karliner Rebbe. There you can learn what true simcha is.” The wealthy man went to Karlin, and where in the past he had been full of anger and sadness, he was transformed into a person full of joy and happiness, and became one of the greatest Karliner Chassidim. All that he needed was for someone to ignite the spark that was hidden deep within him.

Shabbos in Halacha

Wringing and Laundering

 Two melachos that pertain to washing dishes and cleaning spills on Shabbos are סחיטה; wringing, and כיבוס: laundering. Previously we discussed sechita as it applies to extracting juice from fruits. Here we will discuss the halachos of wringing liquid from an absorbent fabric. We will also briefly discuss the laws of laundering as applied to common situations.

  1. Activities Affected by These Prohibitions

 Washing Dishes

 One is prohibited to use a sponge, washcloth paper towel or other absorbent item to wash dishes because water will inevitably be wrung from them while washing. One is also prohibited to use synthetic scouring pads and steelwool pads that trap waters between their fibers.


However, one is permitted to use a synthetic pad whose fibers are widely spaced and cannot trap water. One is also permitted to use a nylon bottle brush.

Shabbos Ta’am HaChaim: Haazinu-Sukkos 5777

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New Stories Haazinu-Sukkos 5777

A Lebanese Soldier Joins the Jewish People

From an early age, I asked God, “Why was I created a Muslim?”

by Chanania Bleich

My name is Munir Mundar. I am a Lebanese Muslim who served in the Israel Defense Forces and gave my all for the State of Israel.

If those words strike you as unusual, you’re not alone. It was with these words that I introduced myself to the public two years ago as I embarked on my road to Judaism. Last week, under the guidance of the beis din of Haifa, I joined the Jewish people.

The news caused a social media uproar in Israel, but once people heard my life story, even those who experienced terror themselves expressed their support and sympathy.

I posted my story online in the hopes of raising understanding.

“I want to tell you, my dear Israelis, the story of my life. My mother and sister were killed by terrorists. Another sister was wounded. My brother’s children are crippled for life. This was the work of the murderers of Hezbollah. Like Hamas, al-Qaeda and Daesh, they are a depraved organization fighting against Israel and the entire world.

“I want you to understand why I am sharing this with you. After all, I was born a Muslim, and many of you will say that I just want to benefit from your country and give nothing in return. So I want you to know that I have fought for Israel. I have fought for the safety of every citizen. And finally, I want you to know that I am studying Torah, and after a long process, I have completed my conversion. I am a proud Jew.”

I was born in Beirut, the youngest of four girls and two boys. My parents divorced when I was young, but our family remained close-knit.

When I was 10, my brother joined the South Lebanon Army, a well-armed, largely Christian militia of about 4,000 soldiers who allied with Israel to maintain security along the Israel-Lebanon border. With assistance from Israel, the SLA fought terrorist organizations, including the PLO and later Hezbollah.

Two years after my mother and my sister started working for the Israeli army, Hezbollah killed them.

The SLA was active mainly in southern Lebanon, where Israel was in military control from the late ’70s until its withdrawal in 2000. Life under Lebanese control had been turbulent – we were under the rule of one terrorist organization, then another and another. We didn’t particularly love Israel, but at least it was peaceful. Many Lebanese civilians found work on Israeli army bases in southern Lebanon, my family among them. My mother worked as a base cook, my sister as a checkpoint guard, checking the papers of anyone passing down that particular road.

Hezbollah, needless to say, did not approve of Lebanese citizens cooperating with the IDF, and my family paid a heavy price.

Two years after my mother and my sister started working for the Israeli army, Hezbollah killed them. One night, terrorists broke into our house, firing in all directions. My mother and sister were killed, and another sister was severely wounded. I was 12 years old.

I was not home at the time; I was staying at my father’s house. In the morning, when my father went out to work, taking me with him, we were stopped at a checkpoint and informed that my sister and my mother had been murdered. My world was shattered.

I began to resent my own Muslim faith and those who claimed to represent it. They killed my mother and sister only because they worked for the Israelis.

Over the next few months, the trauma of the murders, coupled with chaos in the villages of southern Lebanon, caused my family to fall apart – what was left of it. My father had remarried and had children; he took less of an interest in us. Except for my oldest sister, I grew distant from most of my siblings. After my injured sister was released from the hospital, we had nowhere to go. For some time, we lived in an abandoned house.

At the age of 15 I officially joined the SLA militia.

In 1990, an SLA officer found us hiding out in the ruins, took pity on us and rented an apartment for us. This officer happened to be assigned to patrol the area where we lived, and I became his aide and accompanied him on all his duties.

Exposed to SLA activities, I officially joined the militia a year later, at the age of 15. I would serve for the next three years, but in 1993, I was wounded by a roadside bomb. Two of my friends were killed in that attack.

I was badly injured. I was evacuated to Rambam Hospital in Haifa and hospitalized for two months. I went back to Lebanon, but it took two years to fully recover. I could not do anything. During those years, I was considered a disabled veteran and received aid from the State of Israel.

Upon my recovery, I returned to the SLA. Though the Lebanese fighters did the dirty work on the ground, IDF soldiers always fought with us, shoulder to shoulder. Over the years, I married a Lebanese girl and had two children, but the marriage became rocky, and when the IDF withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, I, along with other SLA veterans, left with them. I wanted to start a new life in Israel, away from the violence and terrorism.

The other SLA soldiers and I were temporarily in apartments across the country, mostly in the north. Then, after six weeks, Israel struck an agreement with Germany allowing us to emigrate there and be granted German citizenship. I went, but after 10 months I moved back to Israel. I didn’t belong. I could not get along with the people there.

Upon my return, I received Israeli citizenship. I was issued an ID card recognizing me as a disabled IDF soldier, and with it disability pay from the Defense Ministry. I tried to make a life for myself as a loyal Israeli Muslim. But it was lonely. The Muslim community didn’t go out of its way to make me comfortable. Nobody ever invited me for a holiday meal, so for 14 years I did not celebrate. Although I tried my hand at various businesses, I had little success, and eventually got involved with less than savory people.

But then, once again, help arrived in the form of an army officer – this time, an Israeli. A senior officer recognized me from his time in the SLA, when he was stationed in Lebanon, and volunteered to help. Thanks to his generosity, I was able to get away from the criminal element I had been involved with. I was able to regain my confidence and dignity because he had faith in me.

But the most dramatic change in my life happened three years ago on Yom Kippur, when my benefactor invited me to join him for the prayer services. It was the first time I had been exposed to Jewish prayer.

From an early age, I asked God, “Why was I created a Muslim?” I suffered a lot for being Muslim. But when praying with the Jews, I saw that they only pray for peace. They did not pray “Death to the Arabs.” I realized for myself, that despite the hard times I have had, it was the Jews who saved me. In 14 years, a Muslim never invited me; now the Jews were taking me in. I resolved to become a Jew.

The next week, I was in Haifa. I was walking down the street and saw a rabbi. I told him I had a friend who wanted to convert. He gave me his phone number and told me to give it to my friend. For a few days I tried that number, but no one answered.

A few days later, I ran into the rabbi again. This time, he gave me the number for the beis din.

I called the court and told them that my name is Munir Mundar and I want to convert. They invited me to come in for an interview. I told them my story and they gave me the phone number of a rabbi and told me to talk to him and set up lessons in Judaism. And they opened up a case file for me.

A few days later, I joined a newly-opened class. I passed the conversion exams after a year and a half of intense studies. Last week, my request for conversion was approved, and I underwent the required halachic procedures.

I became Meir Mizrachi, a Jew.

Until now, I never really felt settled in my identity. I felt temporary. Now I feel good. I have peace of mind. I am proud to belong to the people of Israel.

I have peace of mind. I am proud to belong to the people of Israel.

The process has been difficult. At the beginning, keeping Shabbat was hard for me. The classes were hard. Now, keeping Shabbat makes me feel good. The hardest thing was wondering if people would accept me. I really want to be part of the nation.

Converting can’t be a decision made lightly. I have proven that I really want to be a Jew. Today I am a fully observant Jew. I am on the right path, thank God. I hope and pray that one day I will have a Jewish family.

My anger at the Muslim world has not abated. I’ll never forget what they did to my mother and my sister.

Hezbollah, Hamas, Fatah, Daesh, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra. The list of terrorist organizations goes on and on. They all claim to speak in the name of the Quran. The Quran says it is permissible to kill. It commands you to kill. Salafists kill Shiites, Sunnis kill Alawites. Each one kills the other and each one says that killing is the appropriate response to their grievances. Look at what’s going on in Syria! Sheer chaos. All in the name of the Quran and the name of Allah. What kind of religion is that?

Israel always wants peace, but who can we make peace with? Abbas is a terrorist. He gives money to the families of suicide bombers. Anyone who supports terrorists, I believe, is a terrorist. In Syria, Assad destroyed his own people just to stay in power. It’s the same in most Arab countries. And they have the nerve to say that Israel does not want peace?

If the Arabs don’t like what I have to say, I don’t care. I am not afraid. I have trust in God. Only He determines when I was born and when I will die. I’m not afraid of anybody.

If there is one thing I would tell my Arab cousins, it is this: a general rule of history. Every country in the world that has no Jews receives no blessing. The United States is successful because it has a great Jewish population. Am Yisrael is the chosen people. It even says so in the Quran.

And as for my new family, the Jewish community – we are living in very difficult times. If we’re not together in the fight against terrorism, we will have a huge problem. We must be united in everything as a nation.

This article originally appeared in Ami Magazine. (

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Vayeilech-Shabbos Shuva 5777 Inspiration

In this week’s parasha it is said (Devarim 31:1) וַיֵּלֶךְ מֹשֶׁה וַיְדַבֵּר אֶת הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה אֶל כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל, Moshe went and spoke these words to all of Israel. Where did Moshe go, everyone wonders? Let us stake a stroll down the rest of the parasha and we will discover something fascinating. The parasha seems to be fixated on Yehoshua assuming the leadership of the Jewish people, subsequent to Moshe’s death. Yet, it is said at the end of the parasha Moshe warns the people that after his death, they will stray and they will be punished. Rashi is troubled by this idea, as we know (Yehoshua 24:31) that all of Yehoshua’s reign the Jewish People did not stray. Rashi answers that this teaches us that as long as the student is alive, it’s as if the teacher is still alive.

This is a profound lesson and sheds light on our entire parsha. Where was Moshe going? The Baal HaTurim (Shemos 2:1) tells us that it is said twice the words, וילך איש, and a man went. The first “going” was the union of Amram and Yocheved, which led to the birth of Moshe, the first redeemer of the Jewish People. The second “going,” albeit for a negative purpose, was the going of Elimelech, who left Eretz Yisroel because of the hunger. This “going” resulted in the union of Boaz and Rus, the progenitors of Moshiach, our final redeemer. The Zohar states that אתפשטותא דמשה בכל דרא, the extension of Moshe is in every generation. Where was Moshe going? He was going, so to speak, to future generations. It is noteworthy that the words וילך משה equal in gematria the word ממשיך, continuing. Yehoshua, and all those who followed in the path of Moshe, were perpetuating Moshe’s legacy.

One who has אמונת חכמים, faith in Jewish leadership, perpetuates the legacy of the Jewish People, and, as in the case of Amram and Yocheved and Boaz and Rus, is a catalyst for the ultimate redemption.

HaShem should give us the strength to heed the words of our Sages and we should all be granted a Gemar Chasima Tova and A Gut Gebentched Yohr.

Have a FAITHFUL Shabbos!

Rabbi Adler

Erev Shabbos Kodesh Vayeilech-Shabbos Shuva 5777 Inspiration

Is sponsored לזכר נשמת האשה החשובה מרת חיה אסתר בת ר’ משה צבי הלוי אוקוליקא ע”ה     ת.נ.צ.ב.ה.and as a zechus לרפואה שלימה חיה דינה חביבה בת שושנה בתוך שאר חולי ישראל.

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Have a wonderful Shabbos, a Gemar Chasima Tova and a Gut Gebentched Yohr
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Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Vayeilech-Shabbos Shuva 5777



Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Vayeilech-Shabbos Shuva 5777

Repentance is a State of Joy


This week is referred to as Shabbos Shuva, Shabbos of Repentance. What is the association between Shabbos and repentance? It is said that the word Shabbos is derived from the word shav, return. Thus, on Shabbos, everything returns to its source. Yet, one must wonder, how this idea is connected to repentance?

Prohibition of reciting Avinu Malkeinu on Shabbos

The halacha is that we do not recite the prayer of Avinu Malkeinu on Shabbos. The Pinei Menachem cites one reason for this prohibition is that on Shabbos we do not supplicate HaShem for mundane matters such as sustenance. The difficulty with this interpretation is that on Shabbos we recite the supplication of bisefer chaim, where we request from HaShem to be inscribed in the Book of Repentance. For this reason the Levush writes that the text of Avinu Malkeinu is based on the middle blessings of Shemone Esrei which are related to mundane matters. Thus, when one of the Ten Days of Repentance occurs on Shabbos and we only recite seven blessings, we do not recite Avinu Malkeinu. The Pinei Menachem finds a difficulty with this interpretation as the halacha is that we do not recite Avinu Malkeinu in the Friday Mincha Shemone Esrei, and in that Shemone Esrei we recite even the blessings that pertain to mundane matters. The Pinei Menachem suggests an esoteric answer which is beyond the scope of this essay.

Crying on Shabbos for the purpose of Teshuva

Perhaps we can suggest an answer to this question based on an incident regarding the Chiddushei HaRim. A person was once crying on Shabbos and the Chiddushei HaRrim remarked that it is permitted for one to cry on Shabbos for the purpose of repentance. The Chiddushei HaRim cited as proof to this halacha that we find that removing the covering of the heart is referred to as milah, circumcision, and the mitzvah of milah, circumcising a male child on the eighth day overrides the prohibitions of Shabbos. Thus, removing the covering of the heart, i.e. repentance, is also permitted on Shabbos.

The distinction between crying and reciting Avinu Malkeinu on Shabbos

The permit to cry on Shabbos would seem to be in direct contradiction to the Halacha that we do not recite Avinu Malkeinu on Shabbos. Yet, upon further examination, we can see a distinction between the two halachos. One is normally forbidden to cry on Shabbos because this makes a person despondent, and on Shabbos one is required to be joyous. Thus, when the crying is for the purpose of repentance, it is understood that it is permitted because one who repents from his sins feels elated. The requests of Avinu Malkeinu, however, contain a sense of despondence. Examples of this are the requests to remember those who were martyred for the Name of HaShem and the request that HaShem favor us as we are lacking merits. The Halacha mandates that one should not feel despondent on Shabbos, and for that reason one is prohibited to recite Avinu Malkeinu on Shabbos.

The Shabbos connection

Bases on this distinction between the permit to cry on Shabbos for the purpose of Teshuva and the prohibition to recite Avinu Malkeinu, we can better understand why this Shabbos is referred to as Shabbos Shuva. On Shabbos one should be joyful when he is cognizant of HaShem’s Kingship. One who cries and is inspired to Teshuva will feel the requisite joy. Shabbos Shuva is essentially synonymous with Shabbos Simcha, a Shabbos of joy. HaShem should allow us to be inspired to true repentance and we, together with the entire Jewish People, should merit a Gmar Chasima Tova, to be sealed in HaShem’s Book of Life.

Shabbos in the Zemiros

Dror Yikra

The composer was Dunash ben Librat, the famed medieval grammarian and paytan who lived from 4680-4750 (920990 C.E.). He was born in Baghdad and, except for twenty years in Fez, lived there his entire life. He was a nephew and disciple of Rabbeinu Saadiah Gaon and was acquainted with many of the Sages of his time. Rashi and Ibn Ezra quote him extensively. His name appears four times as the acrostic of the stiches in stanzas 1,2,3, and 6. This zemer is a prayer to HaShem to protect the Jewish People, destroy its tormentors, and bring the Nation peace and redemption.

וְנַרְחִיב פֶּה וּנְמַלְּאֶנָה. לְשׁוֹנֵנוּ לְךָ רִנָּה, may we open our mouth and fill it, our tongue sing Your joyful song. It is noteworthy that the words לְשׁוֹנֵנוּ הרִנָּה, our tongue [the] joy, equals in gematria the word שבת, as Shabbos is an ideal time to praise HaShem with song.

Shabbos Stories

There’s more to Yom Kippur than earning a livelihood

Rabbi Yissachar Frand writes: The Shemen HaTov tells of the following incident, which involved the grandfather of the present Belzer Rebbe. It was Yom Kippur in Belz. They had finished the Mincha prayer early, and the Chassidim went to take a rest or a walk before they began the Neilah prayer, the final prayer of Yom Kippur. Everyone left the Beis HaMedrash [Study Hall]. Like many others, one of the honorable and wealthy Chassidim left his Shtreimel [fur hat worn by Chassidim] at his seat. When he returned before Neilah, the Shtreimel was missing. Someone stole a Shtreimel from the Beis HaMedrash in Belz on Yom Kippur!

There was a great commotion. Who could do such a thing?! The Rebbe (unaware of what had happened) went to begin Neilah as scheduled. After Yom Kippur the Rebbe called over the Chassidim and asked them, “What was the big commotion before Neilah?” They told him, “Someone stole a Shtreimel.” The Rebbe told them to all to go and break their fast. Later, the Rebbe asked to see a certain chassid.

The chassid came to the Rebbe and the Rebbe told him, “You stole the Shtreimel.” The fellow denied it. The Rebbe persisted in the charge until finally the chassid broke down and confessed.

The next day in Belz, “For the Jews there was Light” [Esther 8:16]. Everyone proclaimed a miracle: “the Rebbe has Ruach HaKodesh [Divine Spirit].” However, the Rebbe explained that “It was not Ruach HaKodesh. The way that I knew who stole the Shtreimel was as follows. Before Yom Kippur, all of my Chassidim gave me a kvittel (a small written note with their prayer requests). Everyone had needs. This one asked to see nachas from his children, this one asked to marry off a daughter, all sorts of requests. One Chassid, however, asked only for Parnassah (livelihood). A Jew who can only think of Parnassah before Yom Kippur is the type of person who would steal a Shtreimel on Yom Kippur.” That is how the Rebbe knew.

If this is what Judaism is all about, I wish to be a part of it

Rabbi Frand tells a story that he heard from a Rabbi in Dallas, Texas.

One day a man walked into the office of his orthodox shul in Dallas. The man was obviously not an observant Jew. In fact, the Rabbi never saw him in the synagogue before.

“Rabbi,” he said, “I’d like to make a contribution.” He proceeded to hand over a check for ten thousand dollars.

The rabbi was flabbergasted. He did not know this man, nor had the man ever seen the Rabbi. Yet, he just handed over a tremendous gift to the synagogue. “Please,” said the rabbi. “There must be a reason. After all, you are giving this donation to a rabbi whom you do not know and to a shul in which you do not participate. Please tell me the reason.”

The man answered very simply. “Not long ago I was in Israel. I went to the Wall. There I saw a man. He was obviously a very observant Jew. He was praying with such fervor, with unparalleled enthusiasm and feeling. I just stood there and listened. I heard his pleas and supplications, I saw him sway with all his might, I saw his outpouring of faith, love, and devotion all harmoniously blending as an offering to G-d. From the day I saw that man pray, I could not get him out of my mind. If this is Judaism, I want to be part of it. I want to help perpetuate it.” (

These are G-d’s children, let them rejoice

A story is told about Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev. It was Kol Nidrei night and the people of Berditchev had gathered together to daven. Behind them was a year of hunger, privation, and torture. The Maggid of the city was invited to preach. This Maggid, as was the custom in those days, lashed out at the congregants, yelling at them for their sins and telling them the terrible punishments that they were going to be given.

As you can imagine, the people started crying and wailing. At that moment, R. Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev ascended the pulpit in anger, pushed aside the Maggid, called for silence, and shouted: “Stop your scolding. These are God’s holy children. This is a time for rejoicing.” He then ordered the Torahs to be taken from the Ark and he and his Hasidim danced with joy.

Shabbos and Yom Kippur even more so

Rebbe Shalom of Belz used to say the following on the eve of Yom Kippur: The Talmud says, (Shabbos 34a) “Three things a person must ask in his house the eve before Shabbos as it begins to get dark. 1. Asartem, did you take tithes? 2. Aravtem, did you make an Eruv? 3. hidlaktem as haNeros, did you light the Shabbos lights? If it is true that we should do this on the eve of Shabbos, then even more so on the eve of the Shabbos of Shabbasos [a reference to Yom Kippur] that we should say these three things.

Therefore, continued the Belzer Rebbe, ‘asartem?’ in a short amount of time the 10, eser, days of repentance will have passed. Aravtem? also the eve, erev, of Yom Kippur is ending. Hidlaktem, did you light the Shabbos lights? The lights of Yom Kippur are already lit, and still we have not returned, done teshuvah before HaShem.

The Rebbe used to add before Kol Nidrei in the big shul in Belz in a loud voice. ‘Oy, we have erred, we have wronged, and we have sinned.’ When the people heard this, they were all struck with fear and they started to become inspired to teshuvah. (Sefer Yerach HaAysanim, teachings of the Rebbes of Belz page 61)

Mother and Child

One Yom Kippur eve, when Chassidic master Rabbi Yaakov Yisroel of Kriminitz was granting the traditional blessing to his children, he noticed that one of his daughters, overcome by the emotion of the moment, was weeping softly. The young child in her arms was also crying.

“Why are you crying, my child,” asked the Rebbe of the tot.

“My mother is crying,” answered the child, “so I am also crying.”

In the synagogue that evening, the Rebbe ascended the podium and related what his young grandchild had said to him. Bursting into tears, he then said:

“A child who sees his mother weeping, weeps as well, even if he cannot comprehend the reason for her tears. Our mother, too, is weeping. Our sages tell us that the Shechinah ‘keens like a dove and cries: “Woe is to My children, that because of their sins I have destroyed My home, set fire to My sanctuary, and have exiled them among the nations.”’ “So even if we ourselves have become inured to the pain of the exile,” wept Rabbi Yaakov Yisroel, “at least we should cry because our mother is crying.”

Prayer by Example

In a small village in the backwoods of Eastern Europe, many hours’ journey from the nearest Jewish community, lived a Jewish family. Once a year, for the holy day of Yom Kippur, they would make the long trip to town in order to pray together with their fellow Jews.

One year, the villager woke bright and early on the day before Yom Kippur and readied himself for the journey. His sons, however, not quite as industrious as he, had slept in. Impatient to get on his way, he said to his family: “Listen, I’m going to set out on foot while you get yourselves together. I’ll wait for you at the large oak at the crossroads.”

Walking swiftly, the villager soon reached the tree and lay down in its shade to wait for the family wagon. Exhausted from several days of backbreaking labor, he fell asleep. Meanwhile, his family loaded up the wagon and set out. But in the excitement of the journey, they forgot all about their old father and drove right by the sleeping figure at the crossroads.

When the villager woke, evening had already fallen. Many miles away, the Kol Nidrei prayers were getting underway in the town’s synagogue. Lifting his eyes to the heavens, the old man cried:

“Master of the Universe! My children have forgotten me. But they are my children, so I forgive them. You, too, should do the same for those of Your children who have abandoned You….”

“He’s Already There”

Those who arrived early at the village synagogue on Yom Kippur eve could not but notice the man sleeping in a corner. His soiled clothes, and the strong scent of alcohol that hovered about him, attested to the cause of his slumber at this early hour. A Jew drunk on the eve of the Holy Day? Several of the congregants even suggested that the man be expelled from the synagogue.

Soon the room filled to overflowing, mercifully concealing the sleeping drunk from all but those who stood in his immediate vicinity. As the sun made to dip below the horizon, a hush descended upon the crowd: the Rebbe entered the room and made his way to his place at the eastern wall. At a signal from the Rebbe, the ark was opened, and the gabbai began taking out the Torah scrolls in preparation for the Kol Nidrei service.

This was the moment that the drunk chose to rise from his slumber, climb the steps to the raised reading platform in the center of the room, pound on the reading table, and announce: “Ne’um attah horeissa!” The scene—the crowded room, Torah scrolls being carried out of the open ark—seen through a drunken haze, appeared to the man as the beginning of hakkafos on Simchas Torah! The drunk was confusing the most solemn and awesome moment of the year with its most joyous and high-spirited occasion.

The scandalized crowd was about to eject the man from the room when the Rebbe turned from the wall and said: “Let him be. For him, it’s already time for hakkafot. He’s there already.”


On the following evening, as the Rebbe sat with his chassidim at the festive meal that follows the fast, he related to them the story of Reb Shmuel, the Kol Nidrei drunk.

On the morning of the eve of the Holy Day, Reb Shmuel had heard of a Jew who, together with his wife and six small children, had been imprisoned for failing to pay the rent on the establishment he held on lease from the local nobleman. Reb Shmuel went to the nobleman to plead for their release, but the nobleman was adamant in his refusal. “Until I see every penny that is owed to me,” he swore, “the Jew and his family stay where they are. Now get out of here before I unleash my dogs on you.”

“I cannot allow a Jewish family to languish in a dungeon on Yom Kippur,” resolved Reb Shmuel and set out to raise the required sum, determined to achieve their release before sunset.

All day, he went from door to door. People gave generously to a fellow Jew in need, but by late afternoon Reb Shmuel was still 300 rubles short of the required sum. Where would he find such a large sum of money at this late hour? Then he passed a tavern and saw a group of well-dressed young men sitting and drinking. A card-game was underway, and a sizable pile of banknotes and gold and silver coins had already accumulated on the table.

At first he hesitated to approach them at all: what could one expect from Jews who spend the eve of the Holy Day drinking and gambling in a tavern? But realizing that they were his only hope, he approached their table and told them of the plight of the imprisoned family.

They were about to send him off empty-handed, when one of them had a jolly idea: wouldn’t it be great fun to get a pious Jew drunk on Yom Kippur? Signaling to a waiter, the man ordered a large glass of vodka. “Drink this down in one gulp,” he said to the Reb Shmuel, “and I’ll give you 100 rubles.”

Reb Shmuel looked from the glass that had been set before him to the sheaf of banknotes that the man held under his nose. Other than a sip of l’chayim on Shabbos and at weddings, Reb Shmuel drank only twice a year—on Purim and Simchas Torah, when every chassid fuels the holy joy of these days with generous helpings of inebriating drink so that the body should rejoice along with the soul. And the amount of vodka in this glass—actually, it more resembled a pitcher than a glass—was more than he would consume on both those occasions combined. Reb Shmuel lifted the glass and drank down its contents.

“Bravo!” cried the man, and handed him the 100 rubles. “But this is not enough,” said Reb Shmuel, his head already reeling from the strong drink. “I need another 200 rubles to get the poor family out of prison!”

“A deal’s a deal!” cried the merrymakers. “One hundred rubles per glass! Waiter! Please refill this glass for our drinking buddy!”

Two liters and two hundred rubles later, Reb Shmuel staggered out of the tavern. His alcohol-fogged mind was oblivious to all—the stares of his fellow villagers rushing about in their final preparations for the Holy Day, the ferocious barking of the nobleman’s dogs, the joyous tears and profusions of gratitude of the ransomed family—except to the task of handing over the money to the nobleman and finding his way to the synagogue. For he knew that if he first went home for something to eat before the fast, he would never make it to shul for Kol Nidrei.

“On Rosh HaShanah,” the Rebbe concluded his story, “we submitted to the sovereignty of Heaven and proclaimed G-d king of the universe. Today, we fasted, prayed and repented, laboring to translate our commitment to G-d into a refined past and an improved future. Now we are heading towards Sukkos, in which we actualize and rejoice over the attainments of the ‘Days of Awe’ through the special mitzvos of the festival—a joy that reaches its climax in the hakkafos of Simchas Torah. But Reb Shmuel is already there. When he announced the beginning of hakkafos at Kol Nidrei last night, this was no ‘mistake.’ For us, Yom Kippur was just beginning; for him, it was already Simchas Torah….”

Shabbos in Halacha

Wringing and Laundering

 Two melachos that pertain to washing dishes and cleaning spills on Shabbos are סחיטה; wringing, and כיבוס: laundering. Previously we discussed sechita as it applies to extracting juice from fruits. Here we will discuss the halachos of wringing liquid from an absorbent fabric. We will also briefly discuss the laws of laundering as applied to common situations.

  1. Wringing Liquid from a Fabric

 Saturating a Fabric

 The Sages forbade saturating any fabric that one might be inclined to wring out, i.e. a sponge, a mop or a garment. This decree does not apply to rags and similar articles, i.e. paper towels, which people generally do not wring out.

Additionally, the Decree only applies to truly absorbent materials that are subject to the Torah Prohibition of sechitah. Materials that merely trap water, though subject to sechitah by Rabbinic Decree, were not included in the decree against saturating.


 It is forbidden to wring out any absorbent material, whether to save the liquid, to cleanse the fabric, or for no specific purpose. The prohibition applies to natural, truly absorbent materials and to materials that tarp water between their fibers.

Additionally, one is prohibited from saturating and truly absorbent fabric that one may be inclined to wring out.

Shabbos Ta’am HaChaim: Vayeilech-Shabbos Shuva 5777

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New Stories Vayeilech-Shabbos Shuva 5777


In a legendary hotel in the wilds of Chile, I discovered an amazing story.

by Sara Yoheved Rigler

A Czech Jewish couple who marry in a church. A legendary hotel in the wilds of Chile. A Magen Dovid pendant deposited with the mayor’s wife as its owner is taken off to Auschwitz. This story has all the components of an adventure novel. Except that it’s true.

My husband Leib Yaacov and I were invited to Chile, for Leib to give a concert and me to give workshops and lectures to the Jewish community of Santiago. As long as we were travelling to the other side of the world from our home in Israel, we decided to extend our trip by a few days to see the natural beauty of Chile.

We wrote to Galia, the secretary at Aish Chile, who was arranging our trip, and asked her for suggestions of beautiful sites. She replied with three possibilities: one in the north of Chile and two in the south. Leib researched all three places on the Internet and chose Pucón, an area of lakes and lush greenery in the shadow of a volcano in the foothills of the Andes, 789 kilometers south of Santiago. Exquisitely remote, Pucon could be reached only by a small plane to Temuco and then an hour and a half’s car ride to Pucon.

Looking further for where we should stay in Pucon, Leib discovered Antumalal, a boutique hotel set in acres of private gardens, perched on the edge of Lake Villarrica. The photos on their website of scenic vistas, charming rooms, each with a fireplace, flowers and small waterfalls in abundance, and a terrace that overhung the lake made both of us pine to stay there. Leib made a reservation for Wednesday and Thursday nights. We would bring our own kosher food, of course, and have to return to Santiago for Shabbos, since we couldn’t stay in an unkosher hotel for Shabbos.

Antumalal, with only fifteen rooms, was a legendary hotel.

The very next day we received an email from Galia. It had totally slipped her mind, but there was a kosher place to stay near Pucon. Roberto and Sonia Neiman, Orthodox Jews from Santiago, had built their dream home in a beautiful natural setting. On the second floor, they had made two suites for guests. We could stay there, at “Kosher Lodge,” for Wednesday, Thursday, and also Shabbos, with food cooked by Sonia.

Leib and I were thrilled, but also disappointed. We were enchanted by Antumalal and had already made reservations to stay there. We decided to spend one night at Antumalal, then move to Kosher Lodge that Thursday.

After a week in Santiago fulfilling what we thought was the main purpose of our visit to Chile, we embarked on our sightseeing trip to Pucon. Soon we would realize that Santiago was just the prelude to the real reason God had brought us to Chile.

Antumalal, with only fifteen rooms, was a legendary hotel. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip of England had stayed there, as had the Queen of Belgium, the astronaut Neil Armstrong, and the actor Jimmy Stewart. The entrance area displayed enlarged black and white photographs of these celebrities during their stays at Antumalal.

When we arrived, Sonia and Roberto met us with a basket of kosher food to last us for the next twenty-four hours. The Neimans knew the owners. In fact, they startled us by disclosing that the owners of Antumalal were Jews.

Sonia proceeded to fill us in on their history. Guillermo and Catalina Pollak were Czech Jews who, in the late 1930s, converted to Catholicism. They were married in a church. Soon afterwards they emigrated to South America. In 1938, after a brief stay in Argentina, they arrived in Chile. They soon fell in love with the natural paradise of Pucon, far from civilization. Though they no doubt did not care, it was hundreds of kilometers distant from any Jews. They built their boutique hotel, considered an architectural jewel in the Bauhaus style, in the early 1950s.

“They are lining up the students according to religion. Which religion are we?”

The Pollaks had four children—three sons and a daughter. They raised them with no religion whatsoever. When their daughter Rony (short for Veronica) began prep school in Santiago, she called her parents on the first Sunday morning, and asked, “They are lining up the students according to religion. One line for Catholics, one line for Protestants. Which religion are we?”

Her father responded, “This is a Catholic country. Get into the Catholic line.”

Not surprisingly, all four children married non-Jews.

Shortly after our arrival at Antumalal, Sonia introduced us to Rony Pollak. Rony, now divorced, had inherited the hotel, which was being run by her only son, Andrew. Rony, a beautiful woman with short gray hair, greeted us warmly. Because we were friends of the Neimans, she gave us a free upgrade to a two-room suite.

Leib and I settled in, gazing every couple minutes at the view out our picture window—the lake surrounded by mountains. We felt like we had happened into a magical domain, suspended in time, shimmering with natural beauty.

A short time later, we were standing in the entranceway looking at the photographs of the visiting celebrities interspersed with family photos of Guillermo and Catalina Pollak with their four children. I was wondering how Jews could so divorce themselves from Judaism as to convert to Christianity when we were greeted by a handsome young man. He introduced himself as Andrew, our host. This was Rony’s son. As the son of a Jewish mother, he was the only Jew among his generation of the Pollak family, the last strand of a rope that had survived a hundred generations since our forefather Abraham, now frayed and at the breaking point.

Yet, when I looked at him, I was surprised by his visage. A purity and light emanated from his face. We started to converse with him. We told him we were from Israel, that we had come to Chile to teach about Judaism. I asked him if he realized that he was Jewish.

Indeed he did. In the summer season, when Pucon is crowded with tourists, a Chabad center opens in town. He has a Chabad friend who gave him a book. Every day he reads from it.

“That’s wonderful,” we told him. “We’re spending this Shabbos with Roberto and Sonia Neiman. Would you like to join us?”

Andrew shook his head. Weekends are their busiest time. He has a big group coming on Friday night. It’s impossible. Andrew excused himself and went back to work.

Thursday morning I prayed the morning service in the living room of our suite. Leib, wearing his tallis and tefillin, went outside to pray on a grassy patch overlooking the lake. At some point it occurred to me: Andrew can’t do Shabbos, but he could do the mitzvah of tefillin. When Leib returned, I told him my idea, that he could teach Andrew how to lay tefillin.

Minutes later we ran into Andrew in the hall. Leib asked him if he would like to put on tefillin. He replied, “That’s strange. A short while ago I was driving our electric cart on the grounds and I saw you wearing your tefillin, and I thought, I would like to put on tefillin.”

Leib told him he would have to cover his head to say the blessings. Having no kippa, Andrew ran to his car to get a baseball cap. Then Leib led him into our living room, and as he showed him how to wrap the tefillin on his arm and his head, he explained to him the spiritual power of tefillin, how it connects the wearer to God. Andrew imbibed every word, like a famished soul who has not eaten in three generations.

That afternoon, Roberto and Sonia picked us up and took us to their Kosher Lodge. On Friday morning, Sonia mentioned that Rony’s brother and sister-in-law Enrique and Alicia, who lived nearby, would be joining us for Shabbos dinner. The Neimans had bought their property from them, and enjoyed a warm relationship with them. I asked, “Why don’t you invite Rony, too?”

“It’s already Friday,” Sonia demurred. “It’s late to invite her.”

I asked her to try. She did, and a half hour later let me know that Rony would be coming with her boyfriend, the first Jewish boyfriend she’d ever had.

That night, sitting around the Shabbos table, I was surprised to notice a Magen David hanging from Rony’s neck. I commented on it. Rony and her brother exchanged glances. She nodded at him, and he began to narrate a story.

“If we don’t come back, promise me you will get this Jewish star to my son in South America.”

Their father’s parents had lived in Mcely, a small town northeast of Prague. Their grandmother Berta Cohen Pollak was a good friend of the wife of the town’s mayor. When the Nazis took over and started rounding up the Jews to deport them to Auschwitz, Berta took this Magen David to the mayor’s wife and beseeched her, “If we don’t come back, promise me you will get this Jewish star to my son in South America.”

The mayor’s wife accepted the charge. Her friend never returned, but how was she to find Pollak in South America? The post-war years were chaotic. So much destruction, so many displaced persons. Years passed. Before the mayor’s wife died, she passed on the Jewish star and the mission to find “Pollak in South America” to her daughter.

Decades later the Czech ambassador to Chile decided to vacation in the fabled hotel Antumalal. Guillermo and Catalina Pollak happily shared with him that they were originally from Czechoslovakia, from Mcely. When the ambassador returned home for a routine visit, he mentioned to a friend from Mcely that he had stayed in a legendary hotel in southern Chile owned by a Czech family named Pollak from Mcely. His friend, who was none other than the former mayor’s daughter, froze. A few questions proved that this Pollak was the son of her mother’s Jewish friend Berta, who had died in the Holocaust. When the ambassador returned to Chile, he carried with him the Mogen David.

As soon as he reached Santiago, he called Enrique Pollak and told him about the precious object he had brought him. Enrique and Alicia, who lived in Santiago, had just returned from Pucon the day before. They usually made the long trip only once every couple months, but both Enrique and Alicia considered the Jewish star from his grandmother to be something so significant, so precious, that they decided to fly back to Temuco and travel from there to Pucon that very day in order to deliver the heirloom to Guillermo.

At that point in the story, Alicia, a non-practicing Catholic, interjected. “My parents lived in Temuco. The day we brought the star back to my in-laws, my father had a heart attack. Since I was in Pucon, I was able to reach the hospital in Temuco in time to see my father before he died. That only happened because of the Jewish star.”

I gazed at the Magen David. A Jewish woman whose son had defected from Judaism was on her way to Auschwitz, and left, as a final message to her only child who would survive, this Magen David, this symbol of Judaism. Decades later, it miraculously found its way to the Pollaks in Pucon. Now, against all odds, her great-grandson Andrew was starting to study Judaism, and yesterday he had put on tefillin. What was the power behind this Magen David?

When we returned to Jerusalem, I connected Andrew to a rabbi in Santiago who helped him buy his own tefillin. Recently, I received this email from Andrew:

I am doing very well, thank God. My spiritual journey has been wonderful, and my day to day is blessed each morning with tallis, tefillin, and shacharit. I am very interested in going to a yeshiva at some point.

Thinking of Andrew, I wonder: Had we gone nine thousand miles to Chile and had God led us to the remote Antumalal for the sake of this one precious Jewish soul?

Excerpted from Sara Yoheved Rigler’s new book, Heavenprints (

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Nitzavim 5776-Rosh HaShanah 5777 Inspiration

In this week’s parasha, Nitzavim, we read how Moshe tells the Jewish People that they are gathered together to enter into a covenant with HaShem. “If,” Moshe warns them, “there is amongst you someone whose heart is turned away from HaShem to serve other gods, and this person says to himself, ‘everything will be fine with me, because I’ll follow my heart as I see fit.’ “Regarding such a person,” Moshe tells the Jewish People, “HaShem will not forgive him. HaShem will erase his name from under the heaven and HaShem will set him aside for evil from going all the tribes of Israel. When people in subsequent generations inquire as to the destruction of the land, the response will be, ‘because they forsook the covenant of HaShem and they went and served other gods and prostrated themselves to them.’”

Rashi raises the obvious question regarding this narrative. Why does the Torah punish the multitudes for the sinful thoughts of the individuals? How can one person know what’s going on in someone else’s heart? Rashi answers that HaShem will not punish the masses for the thoughts of the individual, as these are concealed matters that Hashem will only punish the individual for. However, regarding revealed sins, it is incumbent upon us to eradicate evil from our midst, and if we don’t meet out justice, then the multitudes will be punished.

Rashi’s answer is perplexing, as it does not seem to answer the question. The difficulty with the narrative is that HaShem punishes the masses for the individual’s sins and Rashi seems to be saying that HaShem will not punish the masses for the individual’s sinful thoughts. Why, then, do the masses receive punishment?

On a simple level we can suggest that there is something missing from the Torah’s description of the individual’s sin, and the Torah is essentially saying that for the thoughts alone the masses will not be punished, but if the thoughts lead to action and the masses are aware of the sinful action, then they will be punished. Nonetheless, this explanation is lacking, because it does not seem fair that one person sins, and even if he worshipped idolatry, he should be the cause for punishing an entire nation. It is true that when Achan took from the spoils of Yericho, the entire nation was punished, but that incident was isolated in that Yehoshua had declared a ban, and a ban is more severe than a regular sin. This being the case, how are we to understand Rashi’s explanation?

In order to understand Rashi’s answer, we must take a broader look at the context of the parasha. It is said (Devarim 29:9) אַתֶּם נִצָּבִים הַיּוֹם כֻּלְּכֶם לִפְנֵי יְ-הֹ-וָ-ה אֱ-לֹהֵיכֶם רָאשֵׁיכֶם שִׁבְטֵיכֶם זִקְנֵיכֶם וְשֹׁטְרֵיכֶם כֹּל אִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל, you are standing today, all of you, before HaShem, your G-d; the heads of your tribes, your elders, and your officers – all the men of Israel. The commentators write that this verse alludes to Rosh HaShanah, when we all stand before HaShem and proclaim Him as our King. The word נִצָּבִים, standing, is indicative of what our status should be. Rashi (Shemos 19:21) writes regarding the Jewish People receiving the Torah that no one was allowed to ascend the Mountain, because if one person separates from the מצב, from the group, then the entire edifice crumbles. On Rosh HaShanah, the entire universe is begging judged. In fact, on Rosh HaShanah night we take various foods to elevate all of creation: the inanimate, the vegetable kingdom and the animal kingdom. Furthermore, we find that Dasan and Aviram are referred to as נִצָּבִים, because when they separated from the Jewish People, Moshe was concerned that their behavior would be the ruination of the Jewish People. In Egypt they threaten to slander Moshe and Moshe wondered if their slandering was enough of  a reason to prevent the redemption for the entire people. In the Wilderness, when Dasan and Aviram collaborated with Korach, Moshe sought to squelch the fire of dissent because he was concerened that the fabric of society would be destroyed. On Rosh HaShanah we must be conbagznjnt of the fact that every individual is part of a cohesive group. It is not sufficient for one to control his actions. One must even safeguard his thoughts, as any stray thought or deviant act can be the catalyst for destruction. We must approach the Yomim Noraim as one unit, with joy and ecstasy, as HaShem is granting us the opportunity to serve Him, united.

Similarly, Rashi is teaching us that while HaShem will deal with the individual for his concealed sins, when those sins begin to affect the masses, then everyone is responsible, and HaShem will, Heaven forbid, punish everyone for the sins of the individual, as we are all united and responsible for each other.

I read this week on my friend Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz’s blog the following which I feel is a worthwhile lesson for all of us to absorb:

“You know every year I just like to share a thought with you that has been running through my brain during this season. This week I’ve been thinking a lot about the incredible diversity of our people. It struck me as I started this week’s Torah portion and read about how all of us our standing before HaShem today. The judges, the elders, the water carriers and wood choppers. I thought about this as I looked out at my daily street cleaner and thought about what a tremendous merit he has, each day with a broom and a trash can he makes HaShem’s country a little bit cleaner. Imagine the tremendous merit he has when he comes up to heaven. How beautiful that is. I wish I could have a piece of that. I don’t mean actually cleaning the streets, of course, but just the merits to have such an incredible opportunity.

Every single person has such a different role in life. It’s so easy to look at somebody else’s life and think I wish I could have that, do that, be that. But there are two things that are important to realize. One, Hashem has created each of us because he wants and even needs each and every one of us to become and excel to the best we can as we are. The world needs, Hashem needs, street cleaners, rabbis, teachers, leaders, doctors, travel agents, clothing salesman, pizza shopkeepers and even lawyers. As we stand before HaShem on Rosh HaShana we need to contemplate our own lives, the things and opportunities we have, we have been given and to ask HaShem for the ability to find an even deeper meaning and all that we need to become the best versions of ourselves that He wants us to.

But even deeper our Sages tell us that we are connected to one another. I may not be a doctor but the next best things is that I have a brother that is one. I may not know how to fix my car or even which way to hold a screwdriver but I have a brother that can, I can’t cook for anything but my closest relative makes heavenly food and a great chulent. If we are able to view each other as our family, as our brothers, as our sisters, as the people that we are all connected with, than the truth is we can share in the merits that each of us has and work together at so that the whole world is one big symphony singing out Hashem’s greatest masterpiece.

The way to feel that connection is by trying to have everyone that you interact with in your prayers. To daven for them, for their needs, for their success, for their greatness to shine as much as your own does. If we can appreciate each other’s greatness and our own and HaShem’s dependency on each of us fulfilling our divine mandate than we will be all connected. HaShem, our King, will be One as we will as well.”

Let us enter into Rosh HaShanah with words of gratitude for everything that HaShem does for us, and to extend that gratitude towards every single Jew, and then HaShem will grant us a year of Gezuent, Nachas, Parnassah, Shalom Bayis and all good things, and the Ultimate Redemption with the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days.

Have a Ksiva Vachasima Tova and a Gut Gebentched Yohr, and a FANTASTICALLY UNITED SHABBOS!

Rabbi Adler

Erev Shabbos Kodesh Nitzavim 5776-Rosh HaShanah 5777 Inspiration

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