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

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Vol. 11   No. 48

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
Yerachmiel ben Yitzchak David ha'Levi
Ve'Yitzchak David ben Yerachmiel ha'Levi
Le'Mishpachas Vallas z.l.
May we all merit to be written in the book of life
for a good and sweet year

Rosh Hashanah

All About Rosh Hashanah
(Adapted from the Ta'amei Haminhagim)

Switching to 'Oseh ha'Sholom'

The Maharil writes that, on Rosh Hashanah, we conclude the final B'rachah of the Amidah 'Oseh ha'sholom' in place of 'ha'mevorech es amo Yisrael ba'sholom', because 'Oseh' has the same numerical value as 'Safriel' (the Angel in charge of the Book of Judgement), and we hint his name in the hope that he will respond by writing us in the book of good life and peace. The Mateh Efrayim points out that 'ha'sholom' has the same numerical value too, and that, he says, explains why we change 'Oseh sholom' at the end of Kadish to 'oseh ha'sholom'.

The Sidur ha'Sh'loh agrees with the Maharil's hint on principle, but chalilah he says, to change the text of a B'rachah when it is not mentioned in the Gemara. He agrees though that one should make the change when saying 'Oseh sholom bi'm'romov', when taking three steps back at the end of the Amidah (as the Arizal says one should), as well as at the end of Kadish.


It's Good to Cry

It is good to cry during the Tefilos of Rosh Hashanah, says the Vavei ha'Amudim. Someone who finds it difficult to do so, he adds, should at least Daven in a crying voice, as the Pasuk writes in Tehilim (6:9) "for G-d has heard the voice of my crying".


The Arizal comments that if someone does not cry at all during this period, it is a sign that his Neshamah is not 'good and complete'.

On the other hand he says, if someone for no logical reason, suddenly begins to cry at any point during these days, it is a sign that he is currently being judged at that moment, by the Heavenly Court, and though His body may not be aware of it, his Soul is.


Praying for Parnasah

One should recite Kapitel 24 ('le'David Mizmor, la'Hashem ho'oretz u'melo'oh") on Rosh Hashanah night, either at the end of Ma'ariv before the last Kadish, or at home any time before Amud ha'Shachar. If one has in mind the Name of Hashem, punctuated the 'Yud' with a 'Sh'va', the 'Hey' with a 'Segol' and the 'Vav' with a 'Komatz' (which spells the Name of the Angel in charge of Parnasah), and recites it with great Kavanah, then one can be rest assured that he will not lack Parnasah the whole year (Eimek B'rachah quoting the Sha'arei Tzi'on).


The Sidur Leiv Samei'ach quoting Rebbi Sholom mi'Beltz explains the Pasuk there "He will receive a B'rachah from Hashem and Tzedakah from the G-d of his salvation" in the following manner. There are some people who think that any B'rachah that comes their way is the result of their own hard work, therefore David Hamelech said "He will receive a B'rachah from Hashem". And there are others who concede that everything comes from Hashem, but who attribute His blessings to their own righteousness. Therefore he added "and Tzedakah from the G-d of his salvation", stressing that not only do all B'rachos come from Hashem, but that they are also the result of G-d's lovingkindness, and not the result of one's own good deeds.


Apples and Ashes

The piece of apple that we eat on Rosh Hashanah night, explains the Taz, hints at the apple-field of which the Zohar often speaks.

According to the Seifer Imrei No'am, it applies to the 'ashes of the lamb of the Akeidah' (referred to in a Piyut). This in turn, refers to the pile of ashes on the Mizbei'ach, which is called 'Tapu'ach'. In fact 'Tapu'ach' has the same numerical value as 'Seh Akeidah' (the lamb of the Akeidah), and this is what is meant by 'the ashes of the lamb of the Akeidah'. The apple and honey therefore, are merely symbolical of the Akeidas Yitzchak, which itself represents the sweetening of the Dinim of Yitzchak through the Chesed of Avraham, as is well-known. Presumably, when eating it, we do so in the hope that our Dinim will be sweetened through the tremendous Z'chus of the Akeidah.


And Lamb's Heads Too

When we eat the head of a lamb (or of a fish), we say 'May it be Your will ... that we become heads ('le'rosh') ... '. The word 'le'rosh', the Yeitiv Leiv observes, is the acronym of the first letters of 'La'asos Retzon Avinu She'ba'shomayim' (to perform the will of our Father in Heaven).



A novel reason for eating pumpkins on Rosh Hashanah night is given by R. Pinchas Koritzer. He bases it on the fact that the pumpkin family grow from the influence of the moon, which moves the forces of water, of which pumpkins are for the main part comprised. And water represents the forces of Chesed, which are aroused by the moon's influence.

In addition, the moon renders the inside of the pumpkin cold, and this symbolizes the cooling down (and the sweetening) of the Dinim of Rosh Hashanah.

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The Rosh Hashanah Amidah (Shachris)
(Cont from vol. 9)

Shehasholton lefonecho

The Eitz Yosef explains that even man, the wisest and most competent of G-d's creations, cannot be referred to as 'a ruler', since he is not even able to 'control the spirit within him' from leaving his body. One day he is there, the next, he is gone, and nobody can stop this from happening. And we add the most unusual expression 'like we know' in front of these words. Perhaps this is because, despite our reluctance to admit our own helplessness under normal circumstances, in this moment of truth, even we have to admit, that in our heart of hearts, we know that there is only one supreme Ruler.


ve'Shimcho Noro ...

The word 'noro' (awesome) appears a number of times in the Tefilos of Rosh Hashanah. Besides here, it also appears in the last paragraph of this B'rachah, 'Kodosh Atah ve'Noro Shemecho ...' and again added to 'Kodosh' in 'Echad Elokeinu' which we recite when taking out the Seifer-Torah from the Oron ha'Kodesh. Presumably, its insertion is based on another change from the regular Tefilah, in that the opening phrase of Tefilas Shachris 'ha'Melech Yoshev al Kisei Rom ve'Niso', has been changed from 'ha'Melech ha'Yoshev ...' . As the commentaries explain there, this is because, the regular text refers to the fact that Hashem sometimes sits on His elevated Throne, on this Day of Judgement it refers to the fact that He is doing so now. No wonder we stand in awe before Him during these days, and no wonder that the word 'Noro' appears in our Tefilos so many times. And the Chachamim added it to 'Kodosh' because, as the Dover Sholom explains by 'Kodosh Atoh', it is to stress that although in reality, G-d Himself is far removed from any human traits and is therefore beyond what the human mind can fathom (which is what 'Kodosh' implies), His Name (which has connotations of the Midos), which He displays for us to understand Him, is truly awesome.


u've'Chein Tein Kovod ...

The three 'u've'Chein's may well hint to the three basic foundations of our religion (see vol. 9, where we gave various other interpretations) - 'u've'Chein Tein pachdecho' hints at G-d's existence, 'u've'Chein Tein kovod Hashem le'Amecho', to Divine Providence, and 'u've'Chein Tzadikim' hints at Torah min ha'Shamayim.


... Tehilah li'yerei'echa ...

'Honour for Your people, praise for those who fear You, hope for those who seek You and the opportunity to speak one's mind for those who long for You'. A beautiful progression of requests, the Dover Sholom explains, for the attributes that Yisrael has lacked in this world (see Iyun Tefilah), working our way up from the ordinary people to those who fear punishment, to those who seek Hashem, to those who long for Him.

And this quadruple progression is reflected in the words that follow - 'Simchah for Your land' (Eretz Yisrael), 'Sason for Your city' (Yerushalayim), 'a blossoming of the horn of David Your servant' (symbolizing the ascension to the Throne, as David Hamelech and his descendents are crowned from a horn) and 'an arranging of the light for ben Yishai Your annointed one' (symbolizing the permanence and brightness of his reign).


u've'Chein Tzadikim Yir'u ve'Yismochu

It does not clearly state what exactly it is that the Tzadikim will see and rejoice over. The Dover Shalom however, explains that it is when they will see the Kovod and the praise ... mentioned in the previous paragraph, that they will rejoice.

This paragraph, like the last one, is written as a series of progressions. 'The Tzadikim (who fight with their Yeitzer ha'Ra and overcome it) will be happy, the Yesharim (who have already conquered their Yeitzer ha'Ra and who have no inclination to do what is wrong) will be overjoyed, and the Chasidim (who go beyond the letter of the law), will rejoice with jubilation.' On the other hand, 'Injustice will shut its mouth, evil will evaporate like smoke (or in smoke, according to some texts) and the brazen kingdom will be removed from the world.'


Ki Sa'avir Memsheles Zodon min ho'Oretz

Although many commentaries interpret 'Memsheles Zodon' (the brazen kingdom) as the Roman Empire (with reference to the current Galus, including that of Yishmael), the Iyun Tefilah prefers to apply it to the Kingdom of the Yeitzer ha'Ra (whom Chazal do indeed refer to as 'a king, an old man and a fool').

I would suggest that 've'chol ho'rish'oh kulah ke'oshon tichloh' (the previous phrase) refers to the Yeitzer ha'Ra, and we conclude 'because the brazen kingdom will be removed' (with reference to the Roman Empire).

In other words, once the wicked Roman Empire has been removed from the world, evil goes with them.

* * *

(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)

Mitzvah 310:
Desisting from Melachah on Rosh Hashanah

It is a Mitzvah to desist from performing any Melachah that falls outside the definition of 'Ochel Nefesh' (preparing food for Yom-Tov) on the first of Tishri, as the Torah writes in Emor (23:24) "The first day of the seventh month shall be for you a day of rest". The seventh month is of course, Tishri, since the months begin with Nisan. The author already explained in the parallel Mitzvah on the first day of Pesach, together with all other details of the Mitzvah, that "Shabboson" denotes a Mitzvas Asei.


Mitzvah 311:
Not to Do Melachah on the First of Tishri

Work, other than Meleches Ochel Nefesh, is prohibited on Rosh Chodesh Tishri, as the Torah writes in Emor (23:25) "You shall not do any servile work".

This day is called the beginning of the year, because from it we count the years, the Sh'mittin and the Yovlos, as well as being the New Year for planting (Orlah) and vegetables (Ma'aser Yerek), as the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (2a) explains. Furthermore, as the Gemara explains there, it is the day on which every living person is judged according to his deeds. And to stress that it is not only mankind as a whole that G-d supervises and judges (Hashgachah K'lalis), but each and every individual (Hashgachah P'ratis), Chazal say there that 'all people pass before Him like sheep', one at a time.

A reason for the Miztvah is - that it is a Divine Chesed to take people to task one day each year, in order to prevent an excessive accumulation of sins, thus enabling them to attain atonement for the relatively small pile of sins that have accrued over the year. And this is the attribute "very kind" (that is mentioned in the thirteen Midos of Hashem), meaning that He turns towards Chesed. Since the sins are only few, He passes over them, and should He find among them sins that require 'cleansing', He does so little by little, as Chazal have said in Avodah-Zarah (4a) 'From His friend, He exacts punishment a bit at a time'.

On the other hand, if G-d were to allow the sins to accumulate, they would pile up to such an extent that the world would be worthy of extermination. It therefore transpires that Rosh Hashanah is the day that enables the world to continue to exist, which explains why it deserves to be included in the list of the precious Yamim-Tovim.

However, since it is also the day on which all living are judged, it is befitting that one stands on this day in fear and awe (of Hashem) more than on any other day of the year. And that is why the Torah refers to it as 'Zichron Teru'ah' (a commemoration of blowing), because 'Teru'ah' denotes a broken note, hinting to each one of us to break his tough Yeitzer-ha'Ra and relent on his evil deeds, as we will explain by the Mitzvah of Teki'as Shofar in the Parshah of Pinchas in more detail.

And it also explains why we do not recite Hallel on Rosh Hashanah, as Rebbi Avahu explains there (in answer to the angels' query before G-d) 'It is not befitting to sing Shirah on a day that the world (oneself included) is being judged '. Some of the Dinim of the Mitzvah ... (besides those that the author already discussed regarding the Yom-Tov of Pesach) ... that, based on the opening Mishnah in Rosh Hashanah - which discusses the four Roshei Shanim, the Gemara lists four things that tear up the evil decree of a person: Tzedakah, crying out, a change of name and improving one's deeds. A change of name reminds a person, whenever he is called by his new name, that he is a different person, and causes him to correct his ways ... And Chazal also referred there (in 16b) to the three books that are open on Rosh Hashanah, one of complete Tzadikim, one of complete Resha'im and one of Beinonim (average people). The open Books serve as a Mashal to convey the concept of G-d's Hashgachah over us. Chazal do this constantly, using analogies with which we are more familiar, to convey spiritual concepts with which we are not.

Quoting his Rebbe, the Seifer ha'Chinuch interprets the Chazal literally, translating 'Tdadik Gamur' as one who who is totally meritorious, and 'Rasha Gamur' as one who is totally guilty (with no merits in this world to protect him), whereas Beinonim, who are somewhere in between, are given a chance until Yom Kipur to be written and sealed in the Book of Life ... The Gemara there also quotes Beis Shamai, who lists three groups on the Yom ha'Din, similar to the previous ones. Only here the Tana is referring to the day of judgement that awaits each person after his death, and this time the commentaries explain 'Tzadik Gamur' as one who is pronounced righteous by the Heavenly Court, and Rasha as one who is pronounced guilty. Whereas Beinonim are those whose scales are evenly balanced.

Do not for one moment think that when they say that the Tzadik is sealed immediately for Olom ha'Bo, all Tzadikim receive an equal reward. In fact, there are countless levels in the World to Come, and each Tzadik ascends to the level that he deserves according to his efforts ... The remaining details are to be found there in the first Perek of Rosh Hashanah, and in Orach Chayim (Si'man 602 and 603).

The prohibition of Melachah on Rosh Hashanah applies everywhere to men and women alike. Someone who contravenes it and perfoms a Melachah that is not termed Ochel Nefesh, receives Malkos, just like on any other Yom-Tov.


Mitzvah 312:
To Bring the Korban Musaf on Rosh Hashanah

It is a Mitzvah to bring the Korban Musaf on Rosh Hashanah, as the Torah writes in Emor (23:24/25) "And on the first day of the seventh month ... you shall bring a fire-offering to Hashem". The Korban is explained in detail in Parshas Pinchas (one bull, one ram, seven lambs as an Olah and a goat as a Chatas). The author already explained the details by the Musaf of Pesach (Mitzvah 299).

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