I wish all of my readers a Gemar Chasima Tova and a gut gebentched yohr.
Shabbos in the Parashah
This Shabbos will be Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. On Yom Kippur we are required to fast and we are occupied the entire day praying and beseeching HaShem to grant us atonement for our sins. One must wonder, however, how it is possible that one can sin the entire year and then in one day have all of his sins wiped away. It is brought in Halacha that Yom Kippur only atones for one who performs Teshuvah, repentance. Yet, we see that Yom Kippur is powerful enough to stir one to great spiritual heights and thus effect repentance. How does this surreal atonement occur? In order to understand the depth of Yom Kippur and its accompanying atonement, it would be worth examining a well-known statement from the Arizal, who stated that Yom Kippur is Yom Kippurim, i.e. Yom Kippur is only a semblance of Purim, the most festive holiday of the year. It is said that the Vilna Gaon explains this enigmatic idea to mean that Yom Kippur and Purim are really two sides of the same coin. Prior to Purim, we are required to fast on Taanis Esther, and then on Purim we are required to eat, drink and be merry, whereas regarding Yom Kippur, we are obligated to eat and drink on the eve of Yom Kippur and on Yom Kippur itself we are instructed to refrain from eating and drinking. Perhaps we can suggest another interpretation to the mystical words of the Holy Arizal. The Gemara (Megillah 7b) states that on Purim, one is required to become intoxicated to the point where he cannot distinguish between cursed is Haman and blessed is Mordechai. Thus, on Purim, one is essentially required to reach the point where he has for all practical purposes abandoned the physical world. When one becomes intoxicated in an appropriate manner, he is allowing himself to transcend all logical definitions and he subsequently enters into a world that is completely spiritual. Once in this state, there is no distinction between cursed is Haman and blessed is Mordechai. In a similar vein, when one refrains from eating and drinking on Yom Kippur, he becomes like an angel, and he transcends the boundaries of this world. In this world, it is seemingly impossible to attain the level of atonement that one is granted on Yom Kippur. Hashem in His great mercy, however, provided us with one day a year where through abstaining from the physical, we can have our sins removed as if they never existed. This explanation can allow us to understand various episodes in the Gemara where it was said regarding a penitent, yesh koneh olamo bishaa achas, there are those who earn their eternal reward in one moment. One who transcends his physical limitations is capable of gaining complete atonement. In this light we can better understand why the Gemara (Brachos 57b) states that Shabbos is a semblance of the World to Come. Shabbos, which is derived from the word shav, return, is the ideal day of the week for repentance. This is because HaShem instructed us to refrain from performing primary acts of physical labor on Shabbos, and in this manner we are able to transcend the physical world and earn complete atonement. It is for this reason that Yom Kippur is referred to in the Torah (Vayikra 23:32) as Shabbos shabbason, a day of complete rest, as the commonality between Shabbos and Yom Kippur is that both days are vehicles to transcend the physical world and completely return to HaShem. May this Yom Kippur, which occurs on Shabbos, allow all of us to attain a lofty level of spirituality, when HaShem Himself will wash away our sins, and then we will merit hearing the blast of the shofar that will herald the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days.
Shabbos in the Zemiros
Ribbon kol HaOlamim
Published in 5401 (1641)
Melech Tov umeitiv, King Who is good and beneficent. This declaration is perhaps the most fundamental belief in Judaism. Although we witness events on a daily basis that seem to contradict the concept of HaShem being good, we must firmly believe that HaShem is good, and for this reason, He created the world in which we live in order to benefit us. Rabbi Yisroel Salanter is known to have said that Yom Kippur is a very good day for the Jewish People. The fact that HaShem grants us atonement for all of ours sins, despite the fact that our actions indicate a rebellion against Him, should instill in us the belief that everything HaShem does is for our good.
Shabbos in Tefillah
Borei kol haneshamos, Creator of all souls. This declaration appears to be elementary. Is it not obvious that HaShem created all souls? Even one who denies the existence of HaShem, if confronted with the question of who created the souls, would be forced to admit that only HaShem, or a being that is not physical, could create a soul. Perhaps the idea of this declaration is that similar to the creation of the world, which HaShem constantly renews, HaShem is constantly recreating all the souls. This idea is evidenced in the verse that states (Eicha 3:23) chadashim labikarim rabbah emunasecha, they are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness. The Medrash (Eicha Rabbah 3:8) interprets this verse to be referring to our souls, which HaShem renews on a daily basis.
When my dear father, may he live and be well, showed me his new “shofar shoes,” I was reminded of how uniquely Jews steeped in Jewish tradition look at the world. It was just about three years ago, several hours before the arrival of Yom Kippur. My family and I had the wonderful privilege of spending the High Holidays in Baltimore with my father and his wife (my wonderful “second mother,” as I refer to her; I lost my own beloved mother a decade ago). Father is the rabbi of a small congregation and serves as the recording secretary, of Baltimore’s widely respected Orthodox rabbinic court. Before he showed me the shoes, he recounted how his old cloth “Yom Kippur shoes”-leather footwear is forbidden on the Jewish Day of Atonement-had grown uncomfortable. These new “shofar shoes,” however, he explained, were much better. He is someone, without question, who can appreciate a good shoe. As a child in a Polish shtetl, the only shoes he ever had were those first worn and outgrown by older siblings. To this day he attributes his size 6EEE feet to the confining, ill-fitting footwear of his youth. And during the years of World War II, when he and his yeshiva-colleagues found themselves unwilling guests of Josef Stalin in a Siberian labor camp, the frigid temperatures made foot-covering a matter not of comfort but of life or death. He recalls how he and his friends would wrap long pieces of cloth in layers around their feet for insulation. When he says the morning blessing “Who has provided me all my needs,” which Jewish tradition teaches refers to shoes, he surely relates to it better than most of us. My father richly appreciates so many other things too. He takes powerful pride in his children and grandchildren. None of them is particularly “successful” in the world’s gauge of the word, in the acquisition of wealth or property. No millionaires among his progeny to date. But they are all, to a person, observant Jews, immersed in the life, texts and traditions of the Jewish religious heritage. And my father knows that the great-grandchildren with which he has been blessed-and, with God’s help, those yet to come-will grow up in dedicatedly Jewish homes. That, he insists-not what the world thinks-is true success, Jewish success. So many things, I pondered, are so different when regarded through deeply Jewish eyes. Even what a New Year’s day means. To the wider world, January 1st is a day of partying and revelry, an opportunity to get drunk and have a good time. Rosh Hashanah, by contrast, is a time of judgment-a time of happiness, to be sure, but of trepidation as well, of regret, of apologies, of repentance. My father blows the shofar at his shul on Rosh Hashanah. The blasts of the ram’s horn call all who hear them, in Maimonides’ words, to “awaken, sleepers, from your slumber,” to reject the “silly distractions of the temporal world” we occupy; to focus on what alone is real: serving our Creator and being good to one another. To see the world, in other words, through Jewish eyes. No wonder my father was so happy to discover that the comfortable Yom Kippur shoes he had found were “shofar shoes.” I did not understand at first what a “shofar shoe” was, though, and told him. He smiled and responded patiently, “Why, each one has a shofar on it.” When I expressed skepticism, he went to his bedroom and emerged triumphantly with the footwear. And when he held them up for me to see, his Jewish eyes taught mine a lesson. I do not think I will ever look at the Nike “swoosh” quite the same way again. (by Rabbi Avi Shafran, reprinted with permission from http://www.aish.com, the leading Jewish content website)
Shabbos in Navi
Yehoshua Chapter 3
In this chapter, Yehoshua instructs the Jewish People regarding the crossing of the Yarden, the Jordan River. Regarding the instruction to follow the aron, the Holy Ark, it is said (Yehoshua 3:4) ach rachok yihyeh beineichm uveinav kialpaim amah bamidah, but there shall be a distance between your selves and it-a measure of two thousand cubits. The Medrash (Tanchumah Bamidbar 9) explains this verse to mean that Yehoshua was informing the Jewish People that they would be surrounding the city of Yericho on Shabbos, and for this reason they should not distance themselves from the aron more than two-thousand amos, the measure of techum Shabbos (the distance of two-thousand amos from a person’s Shabbos residence which he is permitted to travel on Shabbos) so they could come and pray before the aron on Shabbos. It is noteworthy that although the Jewish People were now being instructed regarding a battle against the citizens of the land of Canaan, and as will learn later, this battle would actually commence on Shabbos, it was important to make them aware that they should come to pray before the aron on Shabbos. Shabbos and prayer are part of a Jew’s arsenal, and one should always do his utmost to observe the Shabbos and to pray to HaShem in a time of need.
The Gemara discusses the concept of a witness serving as a judge. It is noteworthy that in the Yom Kippur Mussaf prayers we declare that HaShem is the One Who judges, proves, knows and bears witness. The Rema MiPano writes (Asarah Maamaros Maamar Chikur HaDin 1:12; see also Yaaros Devash 1:14) that the concept that HaShem is both witness and judge only applies to actions between man and his fellow man, whereas in regard to one who sins to Hashem alone, HaShem disqualifies Himself from acting as judge and bearing witness. The reason for this is because HaShem is the plaintiff and furthermore, the Jewish People are HaShem’s children. Thus, Hashem disqualifies Himself from being both judge and bearing witness. Perhaps we can extend this idea to Yom Kippur, where we know that at the Ne’ilah prayer, we beseech HaShem that He grants us the opportunity to withdraw our hands from oppression, i.e. from thievery and other sins that we have committed against our fellow man. It is specifically regarding these sins that HaShem serves as both witness and judge.
Shabbos in Halacha
One can immerse in a bowl or cup of hot water that is a kli sheini a baby’s bottle that contains pasteurized liquid, i.e.. milk. One can also pour hot water from a kettle which is a kli rishon onto the bottle. Nonetheless, one is forbidden from immersing the bottle in a kli rishon. A bottle that contains a non-pasteurized liquid can only be immersed in a kli shelishi but cannot be immersed in a kli sheini.
Shabbos in Numbers and Words
It is noteworthy that the word Kippur in mispar katan, digit sum, equals 18 and 1+8=9. The word Shabbos is mispar katan also equals 9. 9+9=18. The Torah refers to Yom Kippur as Shabbos Shabbason, a complete day of rest. Thus, Yom Kippur is deemed to be a double Shabbos.
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Yom Kippur 5768
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