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

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Vol. 9   No. 48

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
Yerachmiel ben Yitzchak David ha'Levi
Ve'Yitzchak David brn Yerachmiel ha'Levi
Le'Mishpachas Valles z.l.
She'nizkeh kulonu
le'Shonoh Tovoh u'Mesukoh
u'li'Ge'uloh sheleimom

Shabbos Rosh Hashanah

Undeserving As We Are

Explaining why Chazal chose the word 'u've'chein', to open the third B'rachah of the Rosh Hashanah Amidah, the Tur refers to the words of Queen Esther, before she entered the presence of Achashverosh ''u've'chein ovo el ha'Melech asher lo ka'dos'' ('because so I shall come to the King unlawfully'). Based on what Chazal have taught, that 'ha'Melech' in the Megilah generally refers to G-d, Esther was declaring that, undeserving as she was, she was coming before Hashem to plead for her people. Now Esther, a prophetess, must have been on the highest of levels to begin with, and here she stood in prayer before Hashem, in the process of a three-day fast, together with her maidservants and the whole of K'lal Yisrael. In addition, she was risking her life for the sake of Yisrael, which is in itself, one of the most noble deeds that a Jew can perform. And to cap it all, she had enveloped herself with Ru'ach ha'Kodesh, something which most people would be incapable of achieving, even if they tried.

It is clearly difficult to imagine a person with more merit than Queen Esther as she stood before Hashem in total humility. Yet she described herself as unworthy, even though she was appearing before G-d, not on behalf of herself, but on behalf of K'lal Yisrael!


What can we therefore say? Who can claim that he has more merit than that great Tzadekes, as on the Day of Judgement he stands before Hashem, before whom all his sins are revealed?

However, the essence of Rosh Hashanah and the Yomim Nora'im is to realize that we are unworthy, and to impress upon ourselves the extent of our unworthiness. Esther taught us a lesson in how to get through to G-d. Her achievement is now legendary. It is recorded in the Megilah and we celebrate it in the form of Purim. And it is precisely because she considered herself unworthy that she succeeded to the extent that she did. That was the key to Esther's success, and it is likewise the only way that we can possibly hope to emerge from the Yom ha'Din successfully, because it is the key to genuine Teshuvah.


And this is hinted in the very shape of the Shofar, which in fact our sages dispute. Some say that it should be the straight horn of a steinbuck (a mountain goat), because Tefilah (which is the order of the day) requires being straight with G-d, in keeping with the Mitzvah "Tomim tihyeh im Hashem Elokecho". No doubt this is indeed necessary on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipur, no less than it is throughout the year. Yet we follow the opinion of those who require a bent ram's horn, because what is more crucial at this time of year is that we bend before G-d, and Daven with total humility. That is why we not only proclaim Hashem King on Rosh Hashanah, but we begin the major part of our Tefilah with the word 'Hamelech', and keep on repeating G-d's sovereignty in one form or another, over and over again, throughout the Amidah. In this way, we impress upon ourselves G-d's Majesty and develop the habit of standing before Him in awe. That is what G-d wants of us. That is the essence of Tefilah and the doorway to Teshuvah. And commensurate with understanding of G'-d's Majesty comes the realization of how deeply we have sinned and how unworthy we really are.


The story is told of the Berditshever Rebbe, who, in his capacity as Chazan on Rosh Hashanah, once chanted 'Hamelech' and promptly fainted. He later explained that he had recalled the Gemara in Gitin, which relates how the Roman general Vespasian reacted when Raban Yochanan ben Zakai referred to him as Emperor. 'If I am Emperor', he retorted, 'why did you not come earlier?'

Similarly, the Berditshever Rebbe concluded, he had recited the word 'Hamelech' and thought to himself that if G-d was really king, why had he, the Berditshever Rebbe, waited until Rosh Hashanah to acknowledge it. And overcome with shame, he had passed out.

The Berditshever Rebbe was right of course. We need not wait for Rosh Hashanah to proclaim G-d King. But, having failed to do so earlier, what better time is there to begin than on this auspicious (coronation) day. And if we pass out from shame for not having come earlier, so much the better!


All About Rosh Hashanah
(adapted from the Ta'amei ha'Minhagim)

Hataras Nedarim

It doesn't matter if the Dayanim who are Matir the Neder are related to the person whose Nedarim they are releasing (Shulchan Aruch), or even if they are related to each other (Levush).


Lechu Neranenah la'Hashem & Lechoh Dodi

The Minhag is generally not to recite 'Lechu Neranenah' or 'Lechoh Dodi' on Rosh Hashanah, but to begin Kabalas Shabbos and Yom-tov with 'Mizmor Shir le'Yom ha'Shabbos' (though some have the Minhag to recite 'Mizmor le'David', 'Ana be'Ko'ach' and the opening verse of 'Lechoh Dodi' first).

The Sha'arei Teshuvah explains that this is because inviting in the Shabbos ('P'nei Shabbos ne'kabloh') and not Yom-tov, is a denigration of Yom-tov.

He concludes however, that one need not worry about this, since Yom-tov, which is declared holy by Beis-din, does not require an invitation, like Shabbos, which arrives automatically.

He concedes however, that on the eve of Yom Kipur which falls on Shabbos, one does not recite it, because, since (due to the fast) there is no Neshamah Yeseirah, the reason to welcome the Shabbos no longer exists.


Not a Mo'ed

We do not insert the words 'Mo'adim le'Simchah ... ' on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipur, because they are not Mo'adim. 'Mo'adim' after all, means times when everyone meets in the place appointed by Hashem. And that refers to the Mitzvah of appearing in the Beis-Hamikdash, which in turn, is confined to the thrice-annual Mitzvah of Aliyas ha'Regel, on Pesach, Shavu'os and Sukos, as the Torah writes at the end of Parshas Re'ei. And it is for the same reason that we do not recite 've'Hasi'einu Hashem Elokeinu es birkas mo'adecho', since, for the reason that we just explained, 'birkas mo'adecho' is inappropriate (Levush).

This explanation needs further elaboration however, bearing in mind that, in Parshas Emor, which speaks about the Mo'adim, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipur are included And on the other hand, in Parshas Re'ei, which refers to the three occasions that we are obligated to go to Yerushalayim (precluding Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipur), the term 'Mo'adim' is not used! Added to this, the Gemara in Sotah (41a) explicitly refers to Rosh Hashanah as a Mo'ed?

One wonders whether it would not therefore be more appropriate to ascribe the reason for omitting 'Mo'adim le'simchah ... ' to the fact that 'the Book of Life and Death is open before Hashem on these days, so how can we mention simchah?' Indeed, this is the exact reason Chazal give for not reciting Hallel on Rosh Hashanah, and it certainly appears to a good reason for the absence of Simchah then, too. And perhaps the same reason will apply to the omission of 've'Hasi'einu', though it would not be clear as to why we could not recite it, and simply omit the words 'le'simchah u'le'sason'.

The Mordechai gives a different reason for omitting 've'Hasi'einu . . . es Birkas Mo'adecho'. 'Birkas Mo'adecha', he explains, refers to the Divine blessing that accompanies the bringing of Bikurim, and the giving of the various Ma'asros and dues that accompany Pesach, Shavu'os and Succos, as we find in Parshas Re'ei. In fact, that is the B'rachah that the Pasuk mentions at the end of Re'ei - ''ke'virkas Hashem Elokecho asher nosan loch". And since these Mitzos are not seasonal on Rosh Hashanah, it would not be appropriate to recite it then.



We add 'Zochreinu' 'Mi chomocho' 'u'Ch'sov' and 'be'Seifer chayim', in spite of the Gemara in B'rochos, forbidding any additions in the first three or last three B'rachos. The Seifer ho'Oroh le'Rashi explains that the Gemara is referring to individual requests, such as praying for parnosoh or for a sick person. But it does apply to communal needs, such as life, which everybody requires.


Someone who erred and omitted 'Zochreinu' in the first B'rachah, may recite it together with 'Mi chomochoh' in the second B'rachah (Eishel Avraham).

In addition, he asserts that the prohibition of saying 'Zochreinu la'chayim' instead of 'le'chayim' (because of its close resemblance to 'lo chayim') does not apply to Ashkenazim, who pronounce a 'Patach' as 'a'. There is no way he says, that 'la'chayim' can be mistaken for 'lo chayim' (neither by the Satan nor by anybody else). The Tur, he explains, who issues this ruling, lived in Spain, where they pronounced a 'Patach' like the Ashkanazim's 'Komatz'. Consequently, the word 'lo'chayim' really does resemble 'lo chayim'.


Someone who forgot 'u'Chesov' (and who omits it once he has said 'Baruch Atah Hashem'), may go back and say itso as long as he has not passed 'ho'Keil yeshu'oseinu ... '; once he has, in order to avoid saying the Name of G-d (ho'Keil) in vain, he should say it there and then, without going back.


When Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabos, we say 'Zichron Teru'ah' in the Amidah (instead of 'Yom Teru'ah), but we omit the word 'be'Ahavah' (which is normally said on Shabbos). The reason for this, says the Levush, is because 'Teru'ah' implies Din, and people tend not to accept Din lovingly.

On the other hand, we refer to Rosh Hashanah as 'Yom ha'Zikoron', explains the Nachalas Ya'akov, because 'Zikoron' has connotations of Rachamim, and the central theme of all our Tefilos on Rosh Hashanah is that Hashem should judge us mercifully.

This is not a contradiction in terms, as it would at first seem. Because although Rosh Hashanah is a Day of Judgement, G-d has given us the opportunity (by means of blowing the Shofar, and all that goes with it) to attain a merciful verdict. This is known as a 'Yom Din be'Rachamim' (as opposed to which Yom Kipur is called a 'Yom Rachamim be'Din', since it is essentially a day of mercy (through Teshuvah and Tefillah), yet it concludes the judgement that began on Rosh Hashanah.


The Rosh Hashanah Amidah

(based mainly on the Siddur "Iyun Tefilah")

Melech, Ozer, u'Moshi'a u'Mogein

'Melech'- on Rosh Hashanah, the Eitz Yosef explains; 'Ozer'- during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah; 'u'Moshi'a'- on Yom Kipur; 'u'Mogein' - on Hoshana Rabah.


Le'ma'ancho Elokim Chayim

There are two distinct kinds of living, explains the Anaf Yosef. The one consists of eating, drinking and generally having a good time, a lifestyle towards which unfortunately, most people aspire. And it is people who pray for life with this in mind whom the Zohar describes as insolent, like dogs, they unashamedly cry out 'Give, Give'!

The second kind of living consists of a life that is dedicated towards performing the will of Hashem, seeing as after all, 'the dead cannot praise Him'. And it is to hint to this second form of life, that Chazal instituted the special prayer to be recited during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah 'Remember us for life ... for Your sake, G-d of life'. When we ask G-d for life, we are not asking for the sort of life that serves our selfish material needs, but one that is for the sake of Hashem, a life from which He will derive Nachas, too (Seifer ha'Pardes).


u've'Chein Tein Pachd'cho

Chazal chose the word 'u've'Chein', based on the expression used by Esther Hamalkah, before she entered into the presence of Achashverosh, when she said "And therefore (u've'Chein) I will come before the King (which traditionally refers to G-d, the Supreme King) unlawfully (undeservedly)". Because that is how we come before G-d on these days of awe (see main article).


We repeat the word 'u've'Chein' three times (at the beginning of the first three paragraphs of the third B'rachah), because, as the Tur and Beis Yosef explain, the word 've'chein' has the numerical value 72, corresponding to the letters of Hashem's full Name (as well as the letters of Havayah when they are spelt out fully ['Yud Vav Daled; Hey Yud; Vav Yud Vav and Hey Yud']).

Furthermore, if one adds up the letter 'Yud', plus 'Yud Vav Daled', plus the letter 'Hey', plus 'Hey Yud', plus the letter 'Vav', plus 'Vav Vav', plus the letter 'Hey' plus 'Hey Yud', one arrives at 71, which together with the Holy Name itself, equals 72. In addition, the word 'u've'chein' is equivalent to 'Ani va'Ho (two of the above three-letter names of Hashem, which figure prominently in the Hosha'anos on Succos - Tur and Beis Yosef).


And we repeat 'u've'Chein three times, because 72x3=216, corresponds to the three Pesukim in Beshalach (14:19-21) "Vayiso", "Vayovo" and "Va'yeit", each comprising 72 letters. Together they hint at the 72 three-letter Names of Hashem. And this is also the numerical value of 'Yir'ah' (fear), and of the first half of the word Yerushalayim.


Added to this, says the Avudraham, the first three paragraphs under discussion correspond to Malchiyos ('u've'Chein tein pachdecho'), Zichronos ('u've'chein tein kovod ... le'amecha') and Shofros ('uve'chein Tzadikim' - because it concludes with a prayer that the slanderous kingdom will pass from the land. And this hints at the Shofar of freedom, as the Pasuk says "On that day, a great Shofar will be blown". [Perhaps it also corresponding to the Shofar that was blown at Ma'amad Har Sinai]). Anaf Yosef.


On the anniversary of the creation, explains the Anaf Yosef, it is befitting that we beseech Hashem that all his creations unite to fear Him, and to serve Him. This prayer clearly alludes to the days of Mashi'ach, when all of mankind will indeed attain this goal.


... Pachd'cha al Kol Ma'asecha ...
Ve'Eimoscho al Kol Mah she'Boroso

On the Pasuk in the Shirah "Tipol aleihem eimosoh vo'fachad", Rashi explains that 'pachad' refers to those who are close, and 'eimah' to those who are far.

On the understanding that 'ma'asecha' (Your works') pertains to Yisrael, and 'kol mah she'boroso' to the rest of G-d's creations, the Iyun Tefilah explains this Tefilah in a similar fashion. 'Pachad', he explains, describes the deep spiritual sense of awe that someone in the presence of the source of fear experiences, whereas 'eimah' depicts the physical dread that all in its vicinity feel. Consequently, 'Pachd'cha al Kol Ma'asecha' pertains to K'lal Yisrael, who are spiritually close to G-d, and who appreciate His Omnipotence, whilst 've'Eimoscho al Kol Mah she'Boroso' refers to the natural dread of the other nations, who lack the spirituality of Yisael, but who nevertheless tremble before G-d's awesomeness.


Ve'yiro'ucho Kol ha'Ma'asim

The Eitz Yosef remarks at the difference of expression used by the Pasuk when referring to our fear of G-d, and when referring to our fear of others. Whenever the Torah refers to our fear of G-d, it uses the expression 'fearing G-d (like we do here 've'yiro'ucho'); whereas when it refers to our fear of people, it speaks about 'being afraid of', like we find in Ki Savo "ve'Ro'u kol amei ho'oretz ... ve'yor'u mimeko" ('And the people of the land will see ... and they will be afraid of you'). The reason for this is because when one is afraid of a person, it is not the essence of the person that one fears per se, but his actions and his behaviour (which are external factors). Perhaps this is best illustrated by the fact that, once the person dies, all fear of him dissipates. Not so G-d, whose very being is perpetually awe-inspiring.


Ve'ye'osu Chulom Agudah Echos ...

Not like in this world, explains the Iyun Tefilah, where people make their own little groups, in the firm belief that only they represent the truth. And so, there are as many truths as there are groups.

This only goes to prove however, the Gemara in Sanhedrin, which explains how, before the coming of Moshi'ach, the truth will be hidden (because how many truths can there be?). When Moshi'ach comes however, the truth will be revealed, and we will all join together to serve Hashem. Chazal reiterate this concept of universal unity at the end of Ta'anis, where they describe the big circle, one circle, that G-d will make for the Tzadikim, and how they He will stand in the middle. So you see that there is only one central truth, and that is G-d.


... La'asos Retzoncho be'Leivav Sholeim

In the World to Come, says the Eitz Yosef, our serving G-d will not stem from fear of punishment. That kind of Avodah is done without a full heart. Rather we will serve Him out of the reverence (Yir'as ha'Romemus) that results from loving Him, and which is done with a full heart, because it will stem from conviction, from the knowledge that He is the Ruler of the world ...


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