Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 15   No. 52

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmos
ירחמיאל בן יצחק דוד הלוי
ויצחק דוד בן ירחמיאל הלוי
למשפחת ולס ז"ל

Parshas Nitzavim

One Day, Two Days
(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Mo'adim be'Halachah)

Rosh Hashanah is unusual in that it is the only Yom-Tov that lends itself to three possible time periods, the ha'Mo'adim ba'Halachah points out, though not necessarily, in the same historical era. Another unusual feature pertaining to Rosh-Hashanah is that the fact that the Yom-Tov coincides with Rosh Chodesh, it sometimes creates complications with regard to its observance not just in other countries, but even to areas outside the T'chum Shabbos of Yerushalayim.


Initially, as the Mishnah discusses in Rosh Hashanah (30b), the Sanhedrin would accept witnesses who had seen the new moon throughout the day of the thirtieth of Ellul. In that case, the people would observe the Dinim of Yom-Tov already from the night of the thirtieth, just in case the witnesses appeared any time during the day, in which case the Sanhedrin would declare Rosh Hashanah retroactively.

In the event that witnesses did testify on the thirtieth, Beis-Din would fix Rosh Hashanah on the thirtieth exclusively (and the thirty-first [which was now the second of Tishri], was a weekday). If they did not, then they would fix Rosh Hashanah on the following day (the thirty-first of Ellul). Only, since the people had observed the thirtieth too (as we explained), it transpired that they had kept two days Rosh Hashanah (the first mi'Safek, the second, be'Toras Vadai). Assuming that witnesses had not yet arrived in the morning of the thirtieth, the Levi'im would sing, not the Shir of Rosh Hashanah, but the regular Shir shel Yom, depending on which day of the week it was.

And it is for that reason that the Me'iri in Beitzah, is skeptical about Davening the Rosh Hashanah Amidah for Ma'ariv and Shachris, and reciting Kidush on the night of the thirtieth, like the opinions that he cites, that maintain that they did. The author presumes though, that they would blow the Shofar, together with Malchiyos, Zichronos and Shofros, in the morning as usual, seeing as it is forbidden Lechatchilah to postpone Musaf until after the seventh hour (see footnote 2, Page 27).


Interestingly, the ha'Mo'adim ba'Halachah cites a third possibility; namely, there where the Sanhedrin knew that, according to their reckoning, it would not be possible to view the new moon until the thirty-first. In such a case, there was no point in waiting for witnesses to arrive, since, even if they did, they would be assumed to be false witnesses, and would therefore not be accepted. Consequently, Beis-Din would fix the thirty-first exclusively as Rosh Hashanah.

The author presumes that in this latter case, the people of Yerushalayim observed only the fixed day as Yom-Tov, treating the thirtieth of Ellul as a regular weekday; Although the author admits that he has no clear proof for this, he considers it logical to say so, seeing as there is not the least reason to treat the thirtieth day as a Yom-Tov.


It happened one year that the witnesses arrived on the thirtieth only after the Tamid shel Bein ha'Arbayim had been sacrificed (making it impossible to bring the Rosh Hashanah Korbanos). The Chachamim then decreed that, in the event that the witnesses arrived after the Tamid shel Bein ha'Arbayim had been sacrificed, they would treat the remainder of the day as Yom-Tov, though they would only fix Rosh Hashanah on the following day (rendering it to all intents and purposes no different than if the witnesses had not arrived at all on that day).

Based on the Gemara in Eiruvin (39b), Rashi attributes this ruling to the fear that in future years, people may come to treat the thirtieth of Ellul disrespectfully. The Ritva there, however, explains that it is because a. the day began as a Yom-Tov and b. min ha'Torah, it ought to have been declared one.

It would seem obvious that in the current case, the year begins on the second day of Rosh-Hashanah, and not on the first, as Rashi and most commentaries actually maintain in Rosh Hashanah and Beitzah. Rashi in Menachos (100b) however, with reference to this case, specifically writes that if Rosh Hashanah falls on Thursday and Friday, then Yom-Kipur will fall on the following Shabbos, in which case it is clear that in his opinion, the New Year begins, on the first (not on the second) day.


So far, we have spoken about Yerushalayim. How about those Jews who lived outside Yerushalayim? The problem with them is that the Sheluchei Beis-Din (whose job it was to inform them as to when Rosh Chodesh (and in Tishri, Rosh Hashanah) had been proclaimed, were not permitted to break either Shabbos or Yom-Tov whilst conveying the information, in which case there was no way that whoever lived beyond the T'chum Shabbos of Yerushalayim, would know immediately whether Ellul had lasted thirty or thirty-one days.

Initially, says the ha'Mo'adim ba'Halachah, when they would inform the rest of the people by way of lit torches on a series of mountains leading to Bavel, everybody, even those living in Bavel, would keep exactly the same day or days as the residents of Yerushalayim. This is because, a. they would anyway begin by observing the thirtieth of Ellul as Rosh-Hashanah, just as they did in Yerushalayim (particularly since Ellul had a Chazakah of virtually always being a short month), and b. 'Mah Nafshach', they would all know within hours of the advent of the thirty-first of Ellul, on which day Yerushalayim had celebrated Rosh Hashanah, because if it was on the thirtieth, the Sanhedrin would kindle the firebrands on the night of the thirty-first; And conversely, if no torches were lit, they would know that Rosh Hashanah had been fixed on the thirty-first, and they would proceed to observe it then too.


The problems only began when, due to the interference of the Tzedokim (who would proceed to light torches even if Rosh Hashanah had been fixed on the thirty-first of Ellul), they abolished the above method of communication, and began to inform the people who lived further far from Yerushalayim when Rosh Hashanah had been declared, by way of messengers, a method that could take as long as two weeks to complete.

What they then did is in fact, a dispute between Rashi in Rosh Hashanah (18a), who maintains that the people in the Golah would then observe the thirtieth of Ellul as Rosh Hashanah, based on the aforementioned Chazakah that Ellul was generally a short month. Whereas Tosfos there maintains that, Chazakah or no Chazakah, seeing as it was not impossible to fix Rosh Hashanah on the thirty-first, the people in Bavel were obligated to observe both days. Tosfos' opinion is in fact shared by the Rambam.

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Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos)

Making Hay …

"You are all standing here today … to bring you into the covenant of Hashem"(29:9/11)

… from the leaders of the tribes down to the wood-choppers (the slaves) and the water-drawers (the maidservants), the Da'as Zekeinim M.T. explains. If there was a time to establish the covenant, in a way that would ensure that not a soul could turn round and say 'I wasn't there; if I had been, I would not have accepted the covenant upon myself', it was now. Once they crossed the Yarden, and each man went 'to his vine and to his fig-tree', it would no longer be possible to gather them together, for there were bound to be people who were old, sick or lame, who would not be able to attend such a gathering.


Souls Do Not Stand

"But with those who are standing here with us today, and with those who are not with us today" (29:14).

"Those are not with those who are not with us today" means that they were not there in body, although their Souls were all present.

That explains, says the Rosh, why the Torah omits the word "standing" in the latter phrase, since Souls do not stand.


No Decree on the Under-Twenties

"For you know how we dwelt in the land of Egypt" (29:15).

This implies that they knew first-hand. It is a proof, observes the Da'as Zekeinim M.T., that the decree that the generation that left Egypt would die in the desert did not pertain to those who were under twenty years of age at the time.


He Wants to Wear Sha'atnez

" … in order to add the 'satiated' sins with the 'thirsty' ones" (29:18).

According to Rashi, this refers to the sins that he will perform inadvertently (when he does not want to perform them), which will be added to those that he committed on purpose (which he performs with an appetite, so to speak).

What Rashi means is that, once a person throws off the yoke of Mitzvos, and feels free to sin on purpose, he will find that he take to transgressing regularly inadvertently, too.

In similar vein, the Da'as Zekeinim M.T. (in one of his explanations) explains it to mean that he wishes to add the sins that he has no desire to transgress (such as Sha'atnez) to those for which he has a desire (such as theft and adultery). Here too, if someone allows himself to perform sins that give him pleasure (a Mumar le'Tei'avon), it will not be long before he is transgressing sins from which he gains nothing, where he sins purely to anger Hashem (a Mumar le'Hach'is).


If it's Division He Wants …

"Then G-d will separate him for evil from all the tribes of Yisrael.

He thought to separate himself from the rest of K'lal Yisrael by being free (and enjoying himself), so G-d will separate him (though it is doubtful that he will attain the enjoyment that he so sought).


Why Did it Happen?

"And all the nations will ask 'Why did G-d do this to this land … ' And they will answer because they forsook the covenant of Hashem their G-d …' " (29:23/24).

The nations of the world, the Da'as Zekeinim M.T. explains, will ask what Yisrael did do deserve the devastation described in the previous Pesukim. It cannot be because they were of murdered or adultery, since they (the nations themselves were no less guilty than they were, yet they did not suffer the same sort of treatment.

And their answer is forthcoming; They (the nations) did not enter into a covenant with G-d; Yisrael did. And whilst the advantages of such a covenant are endless, the result of abrogating it is devastation (albeit not total).

And so, when Yisrael tried to emulate the gentile nations, the Navi Yechezkel (20:32-37) told them in no uncertain terms, that this was impossible, as this clashed with the covenant that they had entered with G-d, as a result of which He would rule over them "with a strong Hand, with an outstretched Arm and with outpoured wrath".


The Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (32b) comments on this 'Let the Merciful One pour out His wrath on us, as long as He redeems us!'

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(Adapted from the Ta'amei ha'Minhagim)

A B'rachah over the Talis

The Mateh Efrayim points to the fact that, due to the length of the Davening, one is like to go pit in the middle to relieve oneself, creating a Safek B'rachah (since one is wearing a Talis Katan). In order to avoid this, he therefore suggests that when putting on the Talis before Davening, one has the specific intention that the B'rachah covers only up to the time that he goes out. Consequently, upon re-entering Shul, one can recite the B'rachah without any qualms.



Why the Delay

Based on the principle 'Zerizin Makdimin le'Mitzvos', we really ought to blow the Shofar early in the morning, some time during Shachris.

So why do we postpone it until just before Musaf, asks the L'vush?

The reason for this, he explains, is because of a specific occasion when they did indeed blow early in the morning. On that occasion it happened that Yisrael's, mistook the sound of the Shofar for the trumpet blasts that herald an attacking army. Consequently, thinking that the Jews were about to attack them, they took the initiative and attacked first, killing many Jews (see also Rashi Rosh Hashanah 32b).

Following that incident, the Chachamim instituted that the Shofar should be blown only after Shachris and Leining, at which point that we are only busy with out Spiritual obligations, and not suspect us of gathering to fight.


Lam'natzei'ach Seven Times

The reason that we recite 'Lam'natzei'ach li'v'nei Korach mizmor' seven times is because the sum total of wards, plus that of the Pesukin that we say immediately afterwards "min ha'Meitzar … " is equivalent to the Gematriyah of 'Shofar' (including the 'Kolel' [i.e. the word itself]).


The reason that the Mekubalim accept adding the Kollel to a Gematriyah is based on what must surely be one of the most authentic Gematriyos of all; namely, the Pasuk in Vayechi (48:5), where , where Ya'akov said to Yosef "Efrayim and Menasheh shall be to me like Reuven and Shimon", and indeed, the Gematriyah of "Efrayim and Menasheh" is equal to that of "Reuven and Shimon" - plus the Kollel.


The Hidden Letters

In the Pasuk "Tik'u ba'chodesh Shofar, ba'kesse le'Yom Chageinu … " (that hints at the Mitzvah of blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah), the letters preceding those that comprise "chodesh Shofar, ba'kesse" are 'G.Za.R', 'K.Ra.(Ayin)' and 'D.I.N', reprectively, a hint that the Mitzvah of Shofar tears up the evil decree.


Teki'os di'Meyushav & Teki'os di'Me'umad

Even though nowadays, it is customary to stand even for the first set of Teki'os, known as the 'Teki'os di'Meyushav (with the exception of the Ba'al Tokei'a), we still refer to them as that name, seeing as min ha'Din, one is permitted to sit; as opposed to the second set of Teki'os, which are blown during the Amidah, when one ought to be standing (particularly, as ideally, one ought really to blow during the silent Amidah). Hence the latter are called 'Teki'os di'Me'umad' (Mateh Efrayim).


An Ideal Time to do Teshuvah

The reason that we blow Shofar twice, says the Gemara (which does not contend with the thirty blasts that we blow at the end to make up a hundred), once before Musaf ('Teki'os di'Me'yushav') and once during Musaf ('Teki'os di'Me'umad')is in order to confuse the Satan, because when he hears the Teki'os di'Me'umad, he thinks that this is 'great Shofar' that will be blown when Mashi'ach comes, which much to his chagrin, will leave him out of a job.

Consequently, thinking that his end has arrived, he becomes quite confused and remains tongue-tied, precisely as the tone of the Shofar arrives before the Heavenly Throne, to plead for mercy on our behalf.


That is why the Arizal used to recite Viduy between the sets of the Teki'os di'Meyushav (albeit silently, seeing as one is not permitted to recite Viduy loud on Rosh Hashanah).

For what can be better than reciting Viduy when the Satan is unable to accuse?


Why Do the Angels Tremble?

We say in 'u'Nesaneh Tokef' ' … the angels are afraid, and terror and a fit of trembling grips them'.

The Sidur Yismach Leiv, citing R. Sholom mi'Belz, explains that at this time of year, G-d expects the angels to speak up in defense of K'lal Yisrael, and so, when they see G-d scrutinizing them to see whether they have fulfilled this obligation, they are overcome with fear in case they have not, and redouble their efforts to do so.

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The Pasuk in Tehilim (81:4) "Tik'u ba'Chodesh Shofar ba'Kesse le'Yom Chageinu … " is the only Pasuk that actually refers to the obligation of blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah. The Pasuk is deliberately obscure, in keeping with the Torah's cue of hiding most aspects of Rosh Hashanah, including the fact that it is the Day of Judgement.

The P'sikta comments on the Pasuk (in question and answer form) - Do not all months fall under the category of "Chodesh"?

That is why the Pasuk adds "ba'kesse" ("when the moon is covered").

But is the new moon not always covered?

That is why the Pasuk continues "le'Yom Chageinu", a month in which there is a Yom-Tov and the new moon is covered.

Perhaps it refers to the month of Nisan, in which the new moon is covered, and which also contains a Yom-Tov?

The Pasuk must therefore be referring to a month which contains a Yom-Tov during which the new moon is covered - and that can only be Rosh Hashanah, which falls on Rosh Chodesh in the month of Tishri, on which day the new moon cannot be seen.


Commenting on the phrase "u'va'Chodesh ha'Shevi'i be'Echad la'Chodesh … Yom Teru'ah yih'yeh lochem" (from the opening of the Rosh Hashanah Parshah in Emor [23:24]), the Medrash cites the Pasuk in Tehilim (47:6) "Oloh Elokim bi'Teru'ah, Hashem be'Kol Shofar". 'When Hakadosh Baruch Hu takes His seat on the Throne of Din', the Medrash explains, 'He is elevated through Din. Why is that? Because the Pasuk says "Oloh Elokim bi'Teru'ah". Then, when Yisrael take there Shofros and blow Teki'ah before Hakadosh Baruch Hu, He stands up and moves from the Throne of Din and takes His seat on the Throne of Mercy, as the Pasuk concludes "Hashem, with the Tone of the Shofar". At that point He is filled with feelings of mercy towards them, and He has mercy on them, changing the Midas ha'Din to that of mercy. When does this happen? On the seventh month (on the first of the month)'.

Based on a series of questions, the B'nei Yisaschar explains that Rosh Hashanah (the Day on which man was created) is basically a day of Din (and who can stand up to G-d's judgement?) That is why the Pasuk begins "Oloh Elokim bi'Teru'ah", since a. the name 'Elokim' is G-d's Name of Judgement, and b. "Teru'ah", a broken sporadic note, inherently denotes Din too. And Din in turn, implies without mercy. And this in turn, is based on the fact that the Torah refers to Rosh Hashanah as "Yom Teru'ah", denoting Din as we just explained. It makes no mention either of Teki'ah (a long drawn-out note denoting Rachamim), or of Shofar, which spells "Shapru" (make good, i.e. Do Teshuvah, which is the harbinger of the Divine Mercy.

This is learned externally from Torah she'be'al Peh, and hinted in the Pesukim in Tehilim that we have just discussed.

In a nutshell, by referring to Rosh Hashanah as ''Yom Teru'ah', the Torah is conveying to us the message that the essence of Rosh Hashanah is Yom ha'Din, a day on which G-d sits on the Throne of Din and judges us without mercy. However, various teachings in the oral Torah, teach us that we need to blow not only a Teru'ah, but a Teki'ah too, and that we need to blow on a Shofar, both of which denote Rachamim, as we explained earlier.

In other words, if Rosh Hashanah is inherently a day of Din, it lies in our hands to transform it into one of Rachamim, by blowing the Shofar on it.

And this is hinted in the Pasuk that we quoted earlier "Tik'u ba'Chodesh Shofar … ". The Pasuk begins with 'Teki'ah' and 'Shofar', both of which are not mentioned in the Torah (as we already explained); Hence the Pasuk continues "ba'kesse le'Yom chageinu" (the Navi is now telling us what is hidden and covered in the Torah with regard to this Yom-Tov) … "ki chok le'Yisrael Hu" (this law was handed to Yisrael to cause the Midas ha'Rachamim to spread), "Mishpat l'Elokei Ya'akov" … unlike the Din, which comes directly from the G-d of Ya'akov (as written in His Torah).

* * *

(Adapted from the Sidur Iyun Tefilah)

Melech, Ozer, Moshi'a, u'Mogein

G-d's Midas ha'Din begins to manifest itself on Rosh Hashanah, passes through the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, reaches a climax on Yom Kipur, and concludes on Hashana Rabah.

Hence the Eitz Yisef explains the four words in the Amidah (with particular reference to this time of year) 'Melech' - on Rosh Hashanah; 'Ozer' - during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah; 'Moshi'a' - on Yom Kipur; 'u'Magein' - on Hoshana Rabah.


Knowing What to Ask for

In each of the four short Tefilos that we add to all the Amidos of the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah (two at the beginning and two at the end) we ask for life. As the Anaf Yosef, commenting on the second of these pieces, explains … Why should G-d grant us life just because He is the G-d of life?

And the answer, he says, lies in the previous word 'for your sake (G-d of life)'. It is because of our attachment to the G-d of life that we ask Him for life that will enable us to enhance His Honour.


Knowing How to Ask

Interestingly, each request adds to the previous one. First we ask for life, then we praise Hashem who gives us life with mercy, then we ask Him to grant us good life, and finally, we ask Hashem to inscribe us in the book of life and blessing, peace, good sustenance.

This idea is based on the Anaf Yosef citing the Yalkut, who explains that such is the way of poor people, who ask first for a drop of water, then suggest that perhaps there is an onion to go with it, before adding that onions without bread is bad for the heart. And so it is with K'lal Yisrael, who know how to appease their Creator.


've'Chein … ve'Chein … ve'Chein'

Based on the Tur and the Beis Yosef, the Anaf Yosef points out that the numerical value of 'u've'Chein' is seventy-two, corresponding to the Name of Hashem comprising seventy-two letters (as well as to the word 'Chesed'). In fact, the four-letter Name of Hashem is also connected with the Number seventy-two in any one of three ways; one of them, by adding up the sum total of the four letters written out in full - 'Yud-Vav-Daled', 'Hey-Yud', 'Vav-Yud-Vav' & 'Hey-Yud' = 72.

And, he adds, the Gematriyah of 'u've'Chein' is equivalent to that of 'Ani ve'Ho' (and 'Ono Hashem'). Finally, he comments that Chazal fixed three times '(u)'ve'Chein' in the Rosh Hashanah Amidah, with the total Gematriyah of two hundred and sixteen, corresponding to the sum total in the three Pesukim "va'Yisa", "va'Yovo" & "va'Yet" (in Beshalach, 14:19-21; seventy-two letters in each Pasuk), containing the seventy-two three-letter Names of Hashem.


The Three u've'Chens

Citing the Avudraham, the Anaf Yosef connects the three 'u've'Chens with Malchiyos, Zichronos and Shofros, which we insert in the Musaf Amidah.

The first paragraph ('u've'Chen tein pachd'cho'), which deals with spreading Hashem's fear over all His works, and with their uniting to do His will, is synonymous with crowning Him King over the entire world (Malchuyos);

The second ('u've'Chein tein kovod'), which talks about giving honour to Yisrael, is a remembrance for the good (Zichronos);

Whilst the third ('u've'Chein Tzadikim'), which discusses the rejoicing of the Tzadikim and the removal of the forces of evil from the world), represents Shofros, for, as the Sifri explains, 'Crown Him first, then request from Him that He will remember you. And how do you achieve that? By blowing the Shofar of freedom. This clearly alludes to the period following the destruction of the wicked Kingdom.


Changing the Text

The Sh'loh cites the text 'Oseh ha'Sholom' with which the Ashkenazim conclude the Amidah (in place of the regular text 'ha'Mevorech … ') throughout the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah. He agrees that this text is most significant, inasmuch as the Gematriyah of 'Oseh ha'Shalom' is equivalent to that of 'Safriel' (one of the seventy Names of Matatron [who is described as 'the Great Scribe of Hashem']), which in turn, is equivalent to 'ha'Chesed ve'ha'Rachamim'.

Nevertheless, he categorically objects to changing the text of a B'rachah, if such a change is not mentioned in the Gemara. He has no objection however, to using this text at the end of the Amidah, when going back three steps, changing the wording from 'Oseh sholom bi'meromav' to 'Oseh ha'sholom bi'meromav' (and presumably the same will apply to the last Pasuk in Kadish).

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