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

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Vol. 20   No. 49

This issue is sponsored
L'iluy Nishmas
Yerachmiel ben Yitzchak Dovid Haleve and Yitzchak Dovid by Yerachmiel Halevi
from the Wallace familyz"l
t.n.tz.v.h.

Rosh Hashanah Supplement

Time to Blow the Shofar
(From the Torah Temimah)

" it shall be a day of blowing for you. And you shall bring an Olah (for the Musaf)" (Pinchas 29:1/2).

Based on the juxtaposition of these two phrases, the Yerushalmi in Rosh Hashanah comments that 'the Mitzvah to blow is at Musaf'.

The Mishnah in Rosh Hashanah (32b) rules that one blows the Shofar at Musaf. In reply to the question why, in keeping with the principle 'Z'rizin Makdimin' (that one should fulfil a Mitzvah that falls due as early as possible), we do not blow Shofar at Shachris, the Gemara answers that the Mishnah is referring to a period of danger (when the gentiles had issued decrees against us and it was dangerous to blow Shofar early in the morning). Rashi explains that a decree was currently in force not to blow in the morning, and that they actually waited the entire morning for them to blow, and had they done so they would have attacked them.

The current Yerushalmi cites the decree somewhat differently. It relates how, on one occasion, when they blew Shofar early, the gentiles, thinking that the Jews were about to attack them, surrounded them and massacred them.

In any event, it appears from there that initially, they used to blow Shofar at Shachris, and it was only after the above episode that they switched to Musaf. In answer to the question as to why, once the danger had passed, they did not revert to the original Minhag to blow at Shachris, Tosfos there (in Rosh Hashanah) explains that they were afraid that the danger would recur, so they left it as it was.

The author queries this however, referring to other places in Shas where they negated decrees once the reason for the decree passed, notwithstanding the fear that it might recur.

*

According to the Yerushalmi currently under discussion however, the question is easily answered. Granted, he explains, they initially used to blow at Shachris, in keeping with the principle 'Z'rizin Makdimin'. Nevertheless, once they began to blow at Musaf, they carried on doing so, even when the reason for the change no longer applied, based on the Yerushalmi's D'rashah, which teaches us that Musaf is really the correct place to blow.

(The author does not explain however, why, assuming that the Bavli agrees with the Yerushalmi, they initially blew at Shachris, when the Torah clearly indicates that one is supposed to blow at Musaf 'Z'rizin Makdimin' notwithstanding)?

*

The accepted Minhag nowadays is to blow the Shofar before Musaf as well as during Musaf. The Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (16b) discusses why we blow twice, and it answers that it is 'in order to confuse the Satan'.

Although at first, the Gemara's question and answer seem to refer to the second set of Teki'os, which appear superfluous, it is clear from the above Yerushalmi that the Teki'os of Musaf are the real Teki'os, and that the Gemara's question and answer therefore pertain to the first set.

*

The reason that we refer to the first Teki'os as 'Teki'os di'Meyushav' (the Teki'os of sitting) and the second ones as Teki'os di'Me'umad (the Teki'os of standing), as indeed the above Gemara in Rosh Hashanah does, would at first glance, seem to be (not on account of any obligation to blow the first Teki'os standing, as why should that be? but) because, as opposed to the second Teki'os, they are blown before Musaf, when sitting is permitted.

The Rif however explicitly writes that it is customary to sit during the Teki'os before Musaf and the Rambam uses even stronger terms.

To explain why the Minhag was introduced, despite the fact that Teki'as Shofar is one of the Mitzvos that should be performed standing, the Torah Temimah refers to the Gemara that he cited earlier - that the Teki'os before Musaf are basically blown to confuse the Satan and not in order to fulfil the Mitzvah. And it is in order to stress this fact that they would deliberately sit whilst they were being blown, as it has important ramifications concerning Kavanah (the intentions/devotions that one has when blowing).

The author expresses surprise as to why this Minhag is no longer practiced and goes on to suggest why that is).

* * *

A DAY OF JUDGEMENT,
A DAY OF MERCY

If Rosh Hashanah is the day on which we are judged, and Yom Kipur, the day on which we attain forgiveness; we would expect these two days to fall under the heading of 'Din' and 'Rachamim', respectfully.

Yet the commentaries refer to Rosh Hashanah as the day of Din with Rachamim and Yom Kipur, as the day of Rachamim with Din.

The fact is that neither total Din nor total Rachamim is feasible. Total Din, because who can stand before G-d in Din and survive? Bear in mind that every sin is in a sense, an act of rebellion, and that consequently, we appear before G-d's Royal Throne on Rosh Hashanah as multiple rebels.

Neither is total Rachamim conceivable, as it would remove any incentive to do Teshuvah, and lead to nothing but anarchy. Indeed, it is comparable to providing a hungry-looking wretched man who appears at one's door, with food and provisions, little knowing that he has carried out a mass murder.

And this explains why the Din on Rosh Hashanah must be tempered with Rachamim and the Rachamim on Yom Kipur, with Din. For, as we just explained, Divine Justice cannot be dispensed without a touch of mercy, whereas Divine Compassion on the other hand, cannot be handed out unconditionally. Hence Chazal denounce anyone who claims that G-d forgives freely, without any expectations of the sinner.

*

To elaborate further on the combination between Din and Rachamim, Chazal tell us that on Rosh Hashanah, G-d initially sits on the Throne of Din, and at the sound of the Shofar, He moves to the Throne of Rachamim. In effect, this means that when the Mitzvah penetrates our hearts, reminding us that G-d is our King and that we are His loyal subjects, this has the effect of transforming the Midas ha'Din into Midas Rachamim, in keeping with the well-known acronym whose first letters spell 'Elul' - 'Ani le'Dodi ' (as we conduct ourselves with G-d, so He conducts Himself with us'.

And in the same vein, we say in S'lichos 'G-d, King, who sits on the Throne of Mercy, who acts with Chasidus (i.e. within the boundaries of Din)'. The Halachah instructs us to act with Chasidus - to adopt stringencies at this time of year which we do not do the whole year round. So G-d responds by acting with a Midas Chasidus, from combining Rachamim with the Midas ha'Din that is otherwise prevalent on Rosh Hashanah. And so the Navi Yeshayah declares "Return to Me and I will return to you!"

*

One manifestation of the mercy that G-d displays on Rosh Hashanah is the fact that, although, He judges the Tzadikim and the Resha'im there and then, He gives the Beinonim (the ordinary people) ten days grace to make good on their sins and to do Teshuvah.

An interesting reminder of the dual character of Din and Rachamim is the obligation to eat a Yom-Tov meal on Rosh Hashanah (the day of Din) and to fast and repent on Yom Kipur (the day of Rachamim).

Indeed, in spite of the seriousness of Rosh Hashanah, the good food that we eat and the fine clothes that we wear, bespeak an element of joy that would be quite alien in an atmosphere of pure Din. Whilst the sombre atmosphere that prevails on Yom Kipur, due to the absence of these attributes, indicates a touch of Din that curtails the Simchah that one would otherwise expect, if it was a time of boundless Rachamim.

* * *

ROSH HASHANAH IS A CHAG
(Adapted from the Yalkut Yitzchak)

The Yalkut Yitzchak, citing R. Yehuda'i Gaon, writes that it is forbidden to fast on Rash Hashanah, since, like the other Yamim Tovim, it is called a 'Chag' (in the Pasuk in Tehilim "Tik'u ba'Chodesh Shofar ba'Kese le'Yom Chageinu ") - despite the fact that it is the only Yom Tov on which the Korban Chagigah is not brought.

R. Sa'adya Gaon adds that the prohibition of fasting on Rosh Hashanah has sources in the Torah, in Nach, in a B'raysa and in the Gemara (Yerushalmi).

In the Torah - since the Torah refers to it as "Mikro Kodesh" (which Chazal interpret as an obligation to eat and drink).

In Nach - where Hatarshasa (alias Nechemyah) instructed the people on Rosh Hashanah to "Go and eat rich food and drink sweet beverages ".

In a B'raysa - cited in Ta'anis, where Rebbi Akiva talks about blowing Shofar and not fasting for certain cases where there is no rain 'like on Rosh Hashanah'.

In the Gemara (Yerushalmi): Commenting on the Pasuk in Vaeschanan "For which nation is as great (as K'lal Yisrael!)", the Yerushalmi explains 'It is common practice for someone who is summoned to court, to wear black . Not so Yisrael, who wear white (Shabbos) clothes; they eat and drink and rejoice on Rosh Hashanah, in the knowledge that Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu will perform miracles with them. He will make sure that they emerge meritorious, and tear up all evil decrees.

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