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

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Vol. 19   No. 50

This issue is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmos
Sroel ben Yosef z"l
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and Freda bas Moshe z"l

Rosh Hashanah Supplement

The Coronation
(Part 1)

" you shall leave them (Pe'ah and Leket) for the poor; I am Hashem your G-d Speak to the B 'nei Yisrael saying, on the first day of the seventh month shall be for you a day of rest, a remembrance of blowing shall be for you" (23:22/24).

The Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (32a) learns the obligation to recite the Malchiyos Pesukim on Rosh Hashanah from the juxtaposition of the Parshah of Rosh Hashanah next to the words "Ani Hashem Elokeichem". This is most appropriate, since the essence of Rosh Hashanah is the acceptance of G-d as our king, creating an atmosphere of excitement and awe - the excitement that accompanies the crowning of a wise and just king and the awe with which one stands before his majesty.


The Chachamim present the Mashal of a wise man who arrived in a new town which had neither a constitution nor a king. When a delegation approached him with a request to write a constitution, he replied 'First crown me king, then I will form a constitution!' For as long as the people do not accept upon themselves the sovereignty of the person writing it, a constitution is not worth the paper it is written on. Today they will erase this clause because it is excessive, and tomorrow they will erase that clause because it does not suit them. And it is only after he has been crowned king, and the people have become obligated to do his bidding, that the constitution that he subsequently forms is binding on his subjects.


This is why the Sh'ma begins with Kabolas Ol Malchus Shamayim (the acceptance of G-d's sovereignty over oneself) and continues with Kabolas Ol Mitzvos (accepting the yoke of Mitzvos). And this is why Rosh Hashanah precedes the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah (the days leading up to Yom Kipur, when we do Teshuvah on our transgressions and reaffirm our commitment to Torah and Mitzvos). Our efforts would be meaningless if we did not first reaffirm our loyalty to G-d as our Supreme King.


As we explained, the concept of G-d's sovereignty forms the very essence of Rosh Hashanah. It explains the fact that the word 'Melech' appears so often during the Rosh Hashanah Tefilos. And it also serves as one of the reasons that the Torah commands us to blow the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah - in the same way as one blows the trumpet on coronation day, as Rebbi Sa'adya Gaon explains.


Perhaps the best demonstration of the deep connection between Rosh Hashanah and Malchus lies in the following story of the Berditchever Rebbe (that I related a few years ago).

One Rosh Hashanah, the Berditchever Rebbe went to the Amud to Daven Shachris. No sooner had he sung the word 'ha'Melech' in the proverbial tune, than he fainted. He later explained that as he sang 'ha'Melech' he recalled the Gemara in Gitin, where Vespasian said to Raban Yochanan ben Zakai 'If I am king, why did you not come earlier?' And he thought to himself that if G-d is King, then He will want to know why we wait for Rosh Hashanah to acknowledge His Sovereignty and do Teshuvah. Why do we not come before Him earlier? And that frightening thought was what caused him to faint.


G-d, in His mercy, is unlikely to take us to task for not coming earlier. He will however, expect us to accept His Sovereignty on Rosh Hashanah and to spend the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah reinforcing our commitment to Torah and Mitzvos. As the Navi Yeshayah writes, in connection with these awesome days "Seek Hashem when He is to be found, call out to Him when He is close!"

* * *

(Adapted from the Meshech Chochmah)

The Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (16b) states that any year when the Shofar is not blown at the beginning, will have a bad ending.

This does not apply, says the B'hag, to where Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbos. It does apply however, to where they were prevented from blowing on account of an Oneis (through circumstances beyond their control).

Bearing in mind that we are not punishable for Mitzvos that we fail to observe be'Oneis, the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah requires explanation.


The Meshech Chochmah compares it to a sick person who fails to take his medicine, and who needless to say, will suffer the consequences, irrespective of the fact that it was through no fault of his that he did not take it. The truth is that the medicine heals him, and if for any reason, he does not take the medicine, he will not be cured.

And so it is with blowing the Shofar, to which there are two aspects - the Mitzvah per se and the fact that that the Shofar negates the Satan, as is hinted in the letters of the word, which make up the first letters of the words 'Shofar Ve'ein Pega Ra'.


To be sure, on the one hand, someone who does not blow the Shofar on account of an Oneis will not receive a punishment. But on the other, not having blown it, there is nothing to prevent the Satan from prosecuting us, and without the defending powers of the Shofar, who can stand before the Heavenly Throne and plead innocent? That is why the Torah refers to blowing the Shofar as 'a remembrance of blowing', for at one and the same time, it reminds us of G-d and G-d of us. In other words, it stirs up the close relationship between G-d and ourselves, which in turn, is the essence of the positive light with which G-d sees us. And when that close relationship is not reinforced at the beginning of the year, it bodes no good for the remainder of the year.


In similar vein, if, for some reason, Yisrael fail to bring the goat to Az'azel on Yom Kipur, they will not merit the atonement that comes as a result of it being pushed off the cliff, and the fact that it was not their fault will make not one iota of difference.

Likewise, someone who is not wearing Tzitzis can hardly expect to harness the powers of Tzitzis that prevent a person from sinning (like we find in the story told by Chazal of the man from Eretz Yisrael and the prostitute). On the one hand, he has not even transgressed a Mitzvas Asei and under normal circumstances, will not be subject to any punishment; on the other, the Tzitzis will stop him from sinning as long as he wears them.

(to be continued)

* * *


(Adapted from the Torah Temimah)

The Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (Daf 29b, poses a discrepancy between the Pasuk in Emor, which refers to Rosh Hashamnah as 'Zichron Teru'ah' and the Pasuk in Pinchas, which refers to it as 'Yom Teru'ah'. As opposed to the latter, which clearly indicates that Rosh Hashanah is a day on which one blows the Shofar, the former implies that one mentions blowing the Shofar, but that one does not actually blow it.

To reconcile the two Pesukim, Rav Papa establishes the former by Yom-Tov which falls on Shabbos (and on which blowing the Shofar is forbidden), and the latter, by Yom-Tov which falls during the week.

Rava however, refutes Rav Papa's explanation a). because if blowing the Shofar on Shabbos was a Torah prohibition, the Chachamim would not have permitted it in the Beis-Hamikdash - which they did, and b). because min ha'Torah, there is no prohibition against playing instruments on Shabbos, and it is the Chachamim who issued the prohibition against blowing it, in case one comes to carry it in the street.

The problem remains, the Torah Temimah points out, how Rava will explain the discrepancy between the two above-mentioned Pesukim? He also asks why, according to Rav Papa, we mention blowing the Shofar in various forms, as well as actually the Shofar, bearing in mind that from the Gemara's question and answer, it seems that when the one applies, the other one doesn't?

It seems to me however, that according to Rava, the second question answers the first. It is only according to Rav Papa, who maintains that blowing the Shofar is prohibited on Shabbos, that one needs to draw a distinction between blowing and reciting the relevant Pesukim. According to Rava, on the other hand, there is no discrepancy. He considers it obvious that the one Pasuk teaches us the obligation to blow the Shofar, and the other, to recite the Pesukim, irrespective of whether Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbos or during the week!

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