I wish all my readers and their families a K’siva V’chasima Tova and a Gut Gebentched Yohr.
Shabbos in the Parashah
This week is Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year. One of the main focuses of Rosh HaShanah is the blowing of the Shofar, the horn of the ram. What is the definition of the word shofar? It is said (Shemos 1:15) vayomer melech Mitzrayim lamiyaldos haivrios asher sheim haachas Shifra visheim hasheinis puah, the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of the first was Shifra and the name of the second was Puah. The Baal HaTurim (Ibid) writes as follows: the word Shifra appears in scripture in two forms. One appearance is here in Shemos, and the other appearance of the word is in the Book of Iyov (26:13) where it is said birucho shamayim shifrah, by His breath the heavens were spread. There are times when a child is born dead and the midwife takes a cylinder made of reed, places the cylinder inside the stomach and blows into the child. This blowing process resuscitates the child, allowing him to live. Thus, we see that the definition of the word shofar is a cylinder (see Ran and Rashba Rosh HaShanah 26b), which has the capabilities to allow one to breathe. The Zohar states that maan dinafach midilei nafach, one who breathes from Him, i.e. the source of our breathing is from HaShem. Similarly, when we blow shofar, we are demonstrating that our source of life is HaShem. Let us examine a few verses in Megillas Esther and we will see how this idea reflects the blowing of the shofar on Rosh HaShanah and our relationship with HaShem. It is said (Esther 6:1-8) balaylah hahu nadedah shenas hamelech vayomer lihavi es sefer hazichronos divrei hayamim vayihyu nikraim lifnei hamelech vayimatzei chasuv asher higid Mordechai al Bigsana vaSeresh shenei sarisei hamelech mishomrei hasaf asher bikshu lishloach yad bamelech Achashveirosh vayomer hamelech mah naasah yikar ugedulah liMordechai al zeh vayomru naarei hamelech mishorsav lo naasah imo davar vayomer hamelech mi vechatzer veHaman ba lachaztar bais hamelech hachitzonah leimor lamelech lislos es Mordechai al haeitz asher heichin lo vayomru naarei hamelech eilav hinei Haman omeid bechatzer vayomer hamelech yavo vayavo Haman vayomer lo hamelech mah laasos baish asher hamelech chafetz bikaro vayomer Haman bilibo limi yachpotz hamelech laasos yikar yoseir mimeni vayomer Haman el hamelech ish asher hamelech chafetz bikaro yaviu levush malchus asher lavash bo hamelech visus asher rachav alav hamelech vaasher nitan keser malchus birosho vinason halevush vihasus al yad ish misarei hamelech hapartimim vihilbishu es haish asher hamelech chafetz bikaro, that night the king’s sleep was disturbed so he commanded to bring the book of records, the chronicles, and that they be read before the king. And it was found written [there] that Mordechai had denounced Bigsana and Seresh, two of the king’s chamberlains of the guardians of the threshold, who had sought to send [their] hand against King Achashveirosh. The king said, “what honor or majesty has been done for Mordechai for this?” The king’s attendants, his ministrants, said, “Nothing has been done for him.” The king said, “Who is in the courtyard? (Now Haman was [just] coming into the outer courtyard of the royal palace to speak to the king about hanging Mordechai on the gallows that he had prepared for him.) So the king’s attendants said to him, “Behold! Haman stands in the courtyard.” And the king said, “Let him enter.” Haman entered and the king said to him, “What should be done for the man whom the king desires to honor?” Now Haman said in his heart, “Whom would the king especially want to honor more than me?” So Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king desires to honor, have them bring royal attire that the king has worn and a horse upon which the king has ridden, one with a royal crown placed on his head. Then let the attire and the horse be given over into the hand of one of the king’s most noble officials, and let them dress the man whom the king de sires to honor, and have him ride on the horse through the city square, and let them proclaim before him, ‘This is what shall be done for the man whom the king desires to honor.’ ” These verses can be interpreted homiletically to be referring to Rosh hashanah. On Rosh HaShanah, the Books of Life and Deah are opened before HaShem, and HaShem judges man based on his merits. The king, i.e. HaShem , wonders, who has given Mordechai, i.e. the righteous, one, [and HaShem is also referred to as tzadiko shel olam, the Righteous One of the world] honor. The response is that no honor has been accorded to HaShem, so HaShem decides that Haman, i.e. the Satan or forces of evil, should be granted power. [It is noteworthy that this idea is paralleled in the beginning of the Book of Iyov (1:6), where it is said vayehi hayom vayavou bnei haElohim lihisyatzeiv al HaShem vayavo gam hasatan bisocham, it happened one day: The angels came to stand before HaShem, and the Satan, too, came among them. The Commentators and the Zohar state that the words vayehi hayom, it happened one day, refers to Rosh HaShanah. Thus, we see that the Satan also argues his case on Rosh HaShanah.] The king then asks Haman what shall be done for the man whom the king desires to honor. Haman, i.e. the Evil Inclination thinks to himself: “I am like HaShem. Whereas the Jewish People are sleeping and not performing the mitzvos (See Gemara Megillah 13b) you HaShem, never sleep nor slumber. I too am constantly engaged in causing people to sin, and I do not sleep or slumber. Thus, you the king should reward me by allowing me to don Your attire, as it is said (Tehillim 93:1) HaShem malach geius laveish, HaShem has reigned, He has donned grandeur. Furthermore, in the Shiras HaYam, the Song of the Sea, it is said (Shemos 15:1) ashira laHashem ki gaoh gaah sus virochvo ramah vayam, I shall sing to HaShem for He is exalted above the arrogant, having hurled horse with its rider into the sea.” Additionally, the one whom the king desires to honor should have the king’s crown placed on his head. The Medrash tells us that when Haman made this declaration, Achashveirosh became angry, and Haman withdrew this suggestion. Rav Dessler writes that the arrogant person seeks to depose HaShem from His Throne of Glory and seat himself upon it. Thus, the king i.e. HaShem, allows the Satan to boast of how powerful he is, but HaShem does not like the Evil Inclination. In fact, the opposite is true. The Gemara (Sukkah 52a) states that HaShem Himself refers to the Evil Inclination as evil. The word for evil in Hebrew is ra. The same word, with different vowels, is reah, which means friend. It is said regarding the Jewish People (Bamidbar 23:21) HaShem Elokav imo usruas melech bo, HaShem his G-d is with him, and the friendship of the king is with him. The Torah describes the blowing of the shofar as a teruah. When we blow the shofar, we are demonstrating the friendship, so to speak, between HaShem and the Jewish People. No matter how much we may have sinned, we are still called Yisroel, children of HaShem, and our friendship is maintained. Thus, the blowing of the shofar symbolizes our close relationship with HaShem. It is for this reason that the Gemara (Rosh HaShanah 16a ) states that HaShem instructs the Jewish People that on Rosh HaShanah we should recite verses of kingship, so that we should proclaim HaShem as our king. This proclamation is accomplished through the shofar, because it is specifically the shofar that reflects the close relationship that we have with HaShem. One who breathes, breathes from Him. The Gemara states that outside of the Bais HaMikdash, when Rosh HaShanah occurs on Shabbos, the shofar is not blown. Perhaps the reason for this unique ruling is because on Shabbos there is no need to proclaim HaShem as king. The holiness of Shabbos itself reflects HaShem’s kingship, and we are merely required to rejoice in HaShem’s kingship. Hashem should allow us to merit the day of which it is said (Ovadiah 1:21) vialu moshiim bihar Tziyon lishpot es har Esav vihaysah laHashem hamelucha, and saviors will ascend Mount Zion to judge the Mountain of Esav, and the kingdom will be HaShem’s.
Shabbos in the Zemiros
Ribbon kol HaOlamim
Published in 5401 (1641)
Melech Chei HaOlamim, King Who gives life to the universe. The Sar Shalom from Belz writes that the word Elul (67) is equal in gematria to the word chayim, life (68). The essential theme of the month of Elul and the High Holidays is that we plead with HaShem for life. We request sustenance, as one who is poor is not considered to be alive. We also request good health, as one who is not well is not deemed to be alive. We can add that all our requests from HaShem are connected to life. Everything that we request from HaShem in the world of materialism should be with one intention in mind, and that is that we can live before HaShem and perform His will. The Gemara (Sukkah 52a) teaches us that in the future, Hashem will ask Moshiach Ben Dovid to make any request of Him. When Moshiach Ben Dovid will witness the death of Moshiach Ben Yosef, he will request from HaShem that HaShem give him life. When we repent from our sins, HaShem bestows us with life, and the ultimate redemption, as evidenced from Moshiach ben Dovids’s request, is life. This Rosh HaShanah, HaShem should grant us all life, which should be a long life, a life of peace, a life of goodness, a life of blessing, a life of sustenance, a life of physical health, a life which there is fear of heaven and fear of sin, a life in which there is no shame nor humiliation, a life of wealth and honor, a life in which we will have love of Torah and fear of heaven, a life in which HaShem fulfills our heartfelt requests for the good. Amen, Selah.
Shabbos in Tefillah
Adon haniflaaos, Master of wonders. The word nifla, besides meaning wonders, can also man concealed. Thus, we declare that HaShem is the Master of wonders, i.e. the miracles that are public knowledge, and the miracles that HaShem performs that are hidden from the eye.
Rav Sholom Schechter, an elderly rabbi, was on a flight to Eretz Yisrael with a stopover in Athens where he would board a connecting flight. It was two days before Rosh Hashanah, and his past few days in New York had been exhausting. Fund-raising, selling sefarim, packing, and preparing for his trip home had all taken their toll on his seventy-year-old body. Exhausted, he fell into a deep sleep as the plane traversed the Atlantic. He had asked someone to wake him when the plane landed in Athens, but evidently his request was forgotten. Seemingly, it did not strike anyone as unusual that the rabbi with the long beard remained asleep even as the plane landed in Athens and people disembarked. He remained asleep throughout the stopover and awoke only as the plane roared down the runway, taking off to its next destination. The captain greeted everyone and detailed the flight plan. Their next stop was Lebanon! Rabbi Schechter blinked his eyes a few times in disbelief. Lebanon? What happened to Athens? He realized he had slept through Athens, and unlike a bus, he could not just get off. His baggage was probably on its way to Eretz Yisrael, but he most certainly was not. This obviously Jewish man would be in danger in Lebanon. He discussed his predicament with the flight attendant, who discussed it with the captain. They suggested that he stay aboard the plane in Lebanon, and disembark at their next destination-India! Rabbi Schechter knew that there were Jewish communities in Bombay and Calcutta, but en-route the captain informed the passengers that due to civil disturbances in India, only those people holding Indian passports would be permitted to disembark. Rosh Hashanah was only a day off. Checking plane flights and schedules, Rabbi Schechter realized that he had no chance of getting back to Eretz Yisrael on time for Yom Tov. He could not help but wonder where in the world this incredible journey might take him. He would have to get off at the next stop after India, wherever it may be. He soon found out-Bangkok, Thailand. By the time the plane taxied to a stop at Don Muang airport and Rabbi Schechter was cleared through customs, it was only a few hours before Rosh Hashanah. After some desperate inquiries, he was told that there was indeed a synagogue in the center of town. He made his way there, hoping that someone would be kind enough to invite him home. The people turned out to be more than kind. He had no trouble conversing with the congregants, for most of the men who attended the synagogue spoke English. He was invited by the president of the synagogue, Mr. Atlas, to be a guest in his home, and it was there that Rabbi Schechter stayed for the next few days. At the Atlas’ table, Rabbi Schechter ate only some cake, fruit, and vegetables that his daughter had packed for his trip, and matzah, which his host provided. He was introduced to Mr. Atlas’ children, two of whom were brilliant young scholars studying at Oxford University in England. When he came to the synagogue the next morning, a surprise was waiting for him: Not only was there no mechitzah (barrier) separating the men from the women, but the congregants were all sitting together. Rabbi Schechter decided to pray alone in a side room, where he could still hear the prayers of the congregation. After Shacharis, he asked the rabbi if he could address the congregation. “My dear Jewish brothers and sisters,” he began, “I am grateful to HaShem Who has granted me the privilege of being with you this Rosh Hashanah. Many of you probably know that my original intention was to be in Eretz Yisrael with my family, but G-d in His wisdom decided that I be here with you in Bangkok. I deeply appreciate your hospitality and friendliness, and I feel I owe you an explanation of why I did not pray together with you this morning. “Every Jewish synagogue is a micro-model of the Bais HaMikdash, the Holy Temple that stood in Jerusalem. Its sanctity is to some degree comparable to the sanctity of that most holy site. In order to ensure that there be no frivolity or diversion of attention from the sanctity of the Temple, the Rabbis decreed that men and women should not mingle there. Similarly, a synagogue in which men and women sit together loses some of its sanctity. With all due respect, this is why I did not join you.” Rabbi Schechter’s words were eloquent and moving, yet respectful. He did not talk down to them nor criticize them. Afterwards, he encouraged them to create Torah-study groups so that they could become more knowledgeable about the traditions and customs of their forefathers. When he finished speaking, an unbelievable thing happened: A Dr. Frankel, one of the members, walked up to the front and began speaking spontaneously. “I am sure many of you feel, as I do, that it is an honor to have such a distinguished guest in our presence. In deference to Rabbi Schechter, may I suggest that we separate before we continue with the Torah reading and shofar blowing, so that he can pray with us.” In an instant, two hundred people were on the move. The men stationed themselves on the right side of the synagogue, and the women went to the left. And so they remained for the entire holiday. The next morning, Rabbi Schechter was asked to speak again. The Atlas boys were present. The older of the two, Morris, possessed an inquisitive mind, and was taken with Rabbi Schechter’s speech. They had subsequent discussions, and a strong bond grew between the two. Morris had never been to a yeshivah, and had little idea what Judaism was about. Yet here was an Orthodox man who touched his heart. By the time Rosh Hashanah was over, Morris had made a decision. He was going to interrupt his studies at Oxford and transfer to Ohr Samaeyach (a yeshivah with a program for men with minimal Torah background) in Jerusalem. After much negotiation, Mr. Atlas agreed that his son could try it for one semester. The young scholar went off to Israel, and the one semester ended up lasting for three fruitful years. During those years he became a true ben-Torah, and was the catalyst for his younger brother to come to study in Ohr Samaeyach as well. Today, the Atlas brothers are Orthodox Jews living in London, strongly committed to Torah and mitzvos, and deeply indebted to the rabbi who slept through his stopover in Athens. Back in Bangkok, the classes which Rabbi Schechter organized also bore fruit; some women are now observing laws that pertain to women for the first time in their lives.
Shabbos in Navi
Yehoshua Chapter 2
In this chapter, Yehoshua sends two spies, Calev and Pinchas, to asses the strength of the inhabitants in the Land of Canaan. The spies arrive in Yericho at the house of Rachav, and they are immediately discovered by the residents of Yericho. Rachav hides the spies and they promise her that when the Jewish People will conquer the land, they will save her and her family. In this chapter Rachav informs the Jewish spies that the inhabitants of the land had heard of the wondrous miracle that HaShem had performed for the Jewish People, and their hearts melted in fear. The Shem MiShmuel writes that Rachav was Lilis, the great demon, and when Rachav acknowledged that all the inhabitants of Canaan were in fear of the Jewish People, this demonstrated that the great demon was vanquished. Similarly, on Shabbos, those who pray Nusach Sefard recite in the prayer of Kegavna that when the Shabbos arrives, she unified herself in Oneness and divests herself of the Other Side [any trace of evil], all harsh judgments are removed from her. Shabbos is a declaration that all the forces of evil have been subdued, and we, the Jewish People, can now enter into the holiness of Shabbos and bask in HaShem’s Presence.
The Gemara discusses various cases of women who can marry Kohanim. The Gemara states that the Kohanim will listen if they are told that a woman is forbidden to them, but they will not listen if they are told that a woman is permitted to them. In a similar vein, the Jewish People are so holy that it is easier for us to listen when told that a certain action is prohibited on Shabbos than if we are told that a certain action is permitted on Shabbos. This is because the Mishnah in Demai teaches us that even an am haaretz, one who is not so scrupulous in taking tithes, will not lie on Shabbos. Shabbos is so holy that a Jew will do his utmost to ensure that the Shabbos is not violated.
Shabbos in Halacha
In summary, if soup was transferred from a pot to a bowl by means of a ladle, in some respects the soup is deemed to be a kli sheini, whereas in other respects the soup is deemed to be a kli shelishi. One should not add uncooked spices to that bowl, but one can add baked items to the bowl. If the lade was left in the pot for an extended period of time or if the ladle was immersed many times, the bowl is definitely deemed to be a kli sheini, and one should not even add baked foods until the bowl has cooled.
Shabbos in Numbers and Words
It is said (Breishis 2:3) Vayivarech Elokim es yom hashevii vayikadeish oso, Hashem blessed the seventh day and sanctified it. The Zohar states that the six days of the week derive their blessing from Shabbos. It is noteworthy that the word vayevareich alludes to this idea. The letters vav and yud in mispar katan, digit sum, equal seven, which alludes to Shabbos, the seventh day of the week. The letters bais, reish, and chof in mispar katan equal six, which alludes to the six days of the week. Thus, the seventh day of the week is the source of the blessing that is found in the six days of the week.
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Haazinu-Rosh HaShanah 5768
is sponsored by Ephraim and Devora Rich in loving memory of Ephraim’s grandmother
Peryl Cohen, Peryl bas Shmuel, niftarah 2 Tishrei
Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos and a K’siva V’achasima Tova
Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.
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