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

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Vol. 21   No. 52

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
Yerachmiel ben Yitzchak Dovid Haleve and Yitzchok Dovid ben Yerachmiel Halevi

Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kipur

The First of Tishri
(Adapted from the Oznayim la'Torah)

The Oznayim la'Torah citing a P'sikta, presents the source of the Yom-Tov of Rosh Hashanah, and its ramifications.

G-d created the world on the twenty-fifth of Ellul, he explains, and Adam ha'Rishon on the first of Tishri - like Rebbi Eliezer, whose opinion we follow when, in Zichronos of the Musaf of Rosh Hashanah, we refer to the current day as 'the beginning of G-d's works'.

Adam sinned in the tenth hour, was judged in the eleventh, and after performing Teshuvah, he was forgiven in the twelfth.


That was when Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu said to him 'This will be a sign for your descendants; for just as you stood before Me on this day and were forgiven, so too, will your children stand before Me in judgement on this day and attain forgiveness.'


Another source for the fact that Rosh Hashanah is the Day of Judgement, lies in the Pasuk in Tehilim (81) "Blow the Shofar on Rosh Chodesh, when the moon is covered on our Yom-Tov, for it is a statute for Yisrael, a judgement for the G-d of Ya'akov".

The Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (Daf 8) comments that since the only Yom-Tov on which the moon is covered is Rosh Hashanah, it is clear from here that Rosh Hashanah is the Day of Judgement and that it is on Rosh Hashanah that the Shofar is blown.


Reverting to the first Rosh Hashanah in Gan Eden, it was the day on which, after Adam and Chavah sinned and they began to do Teshuvah, the Shechinah, which had receded into the Heavens, following their sin, slowly returned to the world. It was one of ten descents that the Shechinah made, culminating with the Shechinah coming to dwell in the Mishkan thousands of years later. Its purpose was to encourage Adam to perform a complete Teshuvah.


No Mitzvah to Blow the Shofar

The Torah does not command us to blow the Shofar, comments the Oznayim la'Torah. In Parshas Pinchas it writes "Yom Teru'ah yih'yeh lochem", and in B'har "ve'Ha'avartem Shofar Teru'ah". This indicates that, although one cannot perform the Mitzvah without blowing the Shofar, the Mitzvah is not to blow it, but to hear its tone, as indicated in the wording of the B'rachah. Hence if someone blows into a pit and hears, not the sound of the actual Shofar, but that of the echo, he has not fulfilled his obligation.


Chazal have taught us that when the Satan hears the sound of the Shofar, thinking that it is the Shofar of the Mashi'ach, which will herald the termination of his reign in this world, he becomes confused and is unable to prosecute us on the Day of Judgement. And this is why Rebbi Yitzchak, in Rosh Hashanah (Daf 16) says that a year on which the Shofar is not blown at the beginning, will end up being a bad year.

That being the case, asks the author, what difference does it make whether one hears the sound of the Shofar or the sound of the echo? As long as the Satan hears the sound of the Shofar, he will be helpless to prosecute us. Why will that not suffice to ensure a good year, irrespective of what we hear?


And he explains that it is not the sound of the Shofar that plants dread in the heart of the Satan, but the effect that the Shofar has on us - "Will a Shofar blow in the city and the people not tremble?" (Amos 3:6); Mashi'ach will not come merely because someone blows a Shofar. Mashi'ach will come when the Shofar has the desired effect on those who hear it, because the fear of G-d that the Shofar implants into the hearts of those who hear it, will bring Moshi'ach closer, and that is what frightens the Satan. Consequently, if we do not hear the tone of the Shofar, the Satan has no reason to be afraid.


Another possible answer to the author's question is based on the fact that the Satan (who is synonymous with the Yeitzer ha'Ra) is not just one angel. He is an angel that dwells in the hearts of every Jewish individual.

That being the case, whenever a person does not hear the tone of the Shofar, the Satan (his Satan) does not hear the Shofar either.

* * *

Simchah on Rosh Hashanah

When, on Rosh Hashanah, Nechemyah gathered the returnees from Bavel and read out to them the Torah, of which many were ignorant, they burst into tears. This was Nechenyah's response: "Today is sacred to Hashem your G-d; Do not mourn and do not weep! Go and eat rich foods and drink sweet beverages, and send portions to those who have nothing prepared, for today is sacred to our Lord. Do not be sad for the joy of Hashem is your strength!"

* * *

Yom Kipur

Fasting on Yom Kipur
but Not on Rosh Hashanah

"Only on the tenth of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement, a holy calling shall it be for you; you shall afflict yourselves and you shall bring a fire-offering to G-d" (23:27).

Bearing in mind that the objective of both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipur is to attain a favourable judgement, why, asks the Oznayim la'Torah, do we fast on Yom Kipur but not on Rosh Hashanah?

One might well answer that this is because Rosh Hashanah is the day on which we crown Hakadosh-Baruch Hu King - indeed that is one of the underlying reasons that we blow the Shofar (as the Pasuk says in Tehilim "With trumpets and the sound of the Shofar blow before the King, G-d!"), and it is not befitting to fast on such a happy day.

However, that in itself requires explanation. What has this to do with Teshuvah? Stranger still, one is not permitted to perform a verbal Teshuvah on Rosh Hashanah! How does one explain the paradox of not being able to perform Teshuvah on the first day of the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah?


The author posits that there are two types of sin that people tend to perpetrate - one, concerning bad Hashkafos and matters concerning faith, the other, concerning the performance of Mitzvos or the non-performance thereof.

The former, one rectifies on Rosh Hashanah by strengthening one's faith in G-d. Hence the Mitzvah of blowing the Shofar, acknowledging G-d's Sovereignty over the world and over oneself through the mention of Malchiyos, Zichronos and Shofros. And hence the constant repetition of His Malchus throughout the Tefilos ('Hashem Melech, Hashem Malach '). This form of Teshuvah is not subject to fasting and crying (which is also forbidden on Rosh Hashanah). On the contrary, one will better achieve this objective with a healthy body and Soul that is feeling good with itself. One might add to this that in and of itself, coming closer to G-d on Rosh Hashanah must be done with joy, and as Chazal have said 'There is no such thing as Simchah without eating' (Mo'ed Katan, 9a. See also note that follows this article).

Through the mention of Malchiyos one will strengthen one's knowledge in G-d's existence; through Zichronos, that He cares about Yisrael and about the world and supervises it; and through Shofros, that He gave the Torah to His treasured nation at Har Sinai (where the Shofar also blew constantly).


Rectifying the latter (one's failure to perform the Mitzvos properly) requires distancing oneself from the pleasures of this world, which are generally the cause of the problem. Hence it is a Mitzvah to fast to train oneself to annul one's own desires before the will of G-d.

* * *

Yom Kipur Thoughts
(adapted from the Yalkut Yitzchak)

One on the Right & One on the Left

When Moshe ascended the mountain to Daven for Yisrael as Yehoshua led the troops into battle against Amalek, Aharon and Chur stood one on his right and one on his left.

Hence the Minhag to flank the Shali'ach Tzibur when he sings 'Kol Nidrei'.


Standing All Day

Some people have the Minhag to stand throughout the night and day of Yom Kipur. This stems, says the Tur, from the Medrash (Pirkei de'Rebbi Eliezer), which, quoting Sama'el (the prosecutor of Yisrael) states: 'Master of the World; you have a unique nation in the world which is like angels. Just as angels go barefooted, so too, do Yisrael; just as angels do not have knee-joints, so too, do Yisrael stand on their feet on Yom Kipur; just as angels are clean of all sin, so too are Yisrael, and just as angels are at peace with one another, so too are Yisrael.

Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu hears the testimony of our arch-prosecutor and forgives the sins of Yisrael!

Note; some have the Minhag to stand during the entire Tefilah (including Chazaras ha'Shatz).


G-d Praises Yisrael

The Rokei'ach, quoting a P'sikta, writes the following: G-d says to the angels 'Come and I will show you the righteousness of My children. In each and every generation, I load them with so many troubles and with so much suffering, time after time, yet they do not rebel against Me. On the contrary, they call themselves Resha'im and Me, a Tzadik - in public. And they declare 'In truth, we have sinned and we have transgressed, for You have acted truthfully and we are wicked.' That is why He praises Yisrael with the words, "A valiant wife who can find ?"


One Above, Seven Below

The Kohen Gadol sprinkles the blood of the bull and goat between the poles of the Aron ha'Kodesh and towards the Paroches eight times, one above and seven below.

The Rokei'ach explains that this is to atone for the eight limbs with which one sins - the feet that run to do evil, the B'ris Milah, the hands, the mouth, the tongue, the eyes, and the ears - below; the heart - above.

And he adds that the sixteen sprinklings that the Kohen Gadol sprinkles between the poles of the Aron, eight of the bull and eight of the goat, are to shield from G-d's sixteen-bladed sword - "the sword that avenges the vengeance of the covenant" (Bechukosai 26:25).

And it is by the same token that sixteen Korbanos are brought on Yom Kipur.

Moreover, he points out, the thirty-two sprinklings that the Kohen Gadol sprinkles between the poles and towards the Paroches, plus the eleven that he sprinkles on the Mizbei'ach ha'Zahav (seven on the Mizbei'ach and four on the corners), plus the remainder of the blood that is poured on to the foundation of the Mizbei'ach ha'Olah equals forty-four - which in turn, is the Gematriyah of 'Dam' (blood).

The Korbanos on Yom Kipur come to atone for the Soul, which the Torah equates with the blood. And, he concludes, it is the desire that is based in the blood of the liver that causes a person to sin.

* * *

Vol. 21   No. 52

This issue is sponsored l'ilui nishmas
Rebbitzen Eva Wilschanski Esther bas Moshe Halevi z"l
on her second Yohrzeit, Tzom Gedalya
by her husband and children

Parshas Ha'azinu

The Three Shepherds
(Adapted from the Oznayim la'Torah)

" die on the mountain which you are ascending, and you will be gathered to your people, like Aharon your brother died on Hor ha'Har and was gathered to his people ..". (32:3).

How can one ask a person to die, asks the Oznayim la'Torah? Surely dying is something that happens to a person, and is not something that one can do oneself?

The Mishnah in Pirkei Avos (4:29) 'Against your will you will die' does not seem to prove his case, since what the Tana means is that one will have to die even if he doesn't want to.


The Ibn Ezra is apparently bothered by this question, which is why he explains the command with reference to burying himself, as one opinion maintains Moshe did. According to the opinion that Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu buried Moshe (See Rashi, ve'Zos ha'Berachah, 34:6), the question remains 'How was Moshe expected to fulfil the command to die?


The option of actually dying, says the Oznayim la'Torah, may not have been open to Moshe, but preparing himself for death certainly was (bear in mind that the preparation that precedes a Mitzvah is an intrinsic part of the Mitzvah).

What G-d was therefore commanding Moshe was to emulate his brother Aharon in preparing for G-d to take his Soul; to ascend the bed that was waiting for him on the mountain, to stretch out his hands and feet and to close his mouth and eyes. In that way he would merit the same sweet death of his brother Aharon that he had longed for.


Interestingly, the author points out, nobody else throughout history was asked to ascend a mountain and to prepare himself to die in this way, except that, whereas Aharon died with the help of Moshe, Moshe ascended the mountain and died without human assistance. Aharon may have been on a par with his brother in saintliness, but as far as Moshe's intimate relationship with G-d is concerned, he had no peer, as the Torah itself testifies in ve'Zos ha'Berachah (34:10) "And no prophet arose who could compare with Moshe ".

Notwithstanding that difference, perhaps we can say that just as they shared equally elevated lives (See Rashi Va'eira, 6:26), so too did they share equally elevated deaths.


If the deaths of both Moshe and Aharon merited the above unique manner of death, it is hardly surprising that (aside from the Avos) they are two of only three people listed as having died with a kiss from Hashem. The third person was none other than their sister Miriam, by whom this is not mentioned specifically in deference to Kavod Shamayim (See Rashi in Chukas, 20:1). And it is in deference to the Kavod of Miriam herself, that her burial took place immediately after her death, and that the Torah gives no details about the burial.

The three siblings are known as 'the three shepherds', because they faithfully led Yisrael throughout the forty years that they wandered in the desert, Moshe and Aharon led the men, and Miriam the women, as we find when Yisrael sang Shirah at the Yam-Suf.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Oznayim la'Torah)

Har ho'Avarim, Hor N'vo
Har ha'Hor & Rosh ha'Pisgah

"Ascend this Har ha'Avarim, Har N'vo, which is in the land of Mo'av, which is in front of Yericho which is in the land of Cana'an" (32:49).


The fact that the Torah inserts the word "this" in the opening phrase, indicates that Moshe was actually standing in front of the mountain. That being the case, asks the Oznayim la'Torah, why does the Torah see fit to describe the location of the mountain in such detail?


To answer the question, he quotes the Sifri, which comments that the mountain in question actually had four names (as listed in the heading of the article).

It is called Har ha'Avarim, says the Medrash, because it served as the burial place for three Tzadikim who died without sinning (on account of the 'plan of the snake' - i.e. because of the snake's interaction with Chavah, everybody has to die). Those three people were Moshe Aharon and Miriam.

The Zayis Ra'anan adds that the word "N'vo" is the acronym 'Nachash bo'

Note, that according to this Medrash, the episode with the rock must be seen as a Divine excuse to kill Moshe and Aharon (since they may have done wrong, but did not really sin). We will also need to say that, according to the Medrash, the mountain extended a great distance, from Edom, which is south-east of Eretz Yisrael, northwards, as far as a point that was level with Yericho on the West Bank.

In any event, it was on the southernmost tip of the mountain (known as Hor ha'Har) that Aharon died on Rosh Chodesh Av, at the foot of the mountain (next to Kadesh), where Miriam died, on the tenth of Nisan before. Whereas Moshe Rabeinu died on the following seventh of Adar on its most northernmost tip (on Har N'vo)


The author goes on to explain that all the identification signs were added to appease Moshe, who expressed concern that even his bones would not be interred in Eretz Yisrael. Therefore G-d informed him that he would be buried in the family grave, together with his brother and sister.


In Pasuk 52, the Oznayim la'Torah points out that, even though Moshe and Aharon were buried outside the Land of Yisrael that G-d was "giving to Yisrael" at that time, it was within the boundary of the Land that Yisrael are destined to inherit in time to come.

This is because the three additional lands that G-d promised Avraham Avinu in time to come (the Keini, K'nizi and Kadmoni) were in fact the lands of Edom, Amon and Mo'av.

It therefore transpires that although Moshe and Aharon were buried in Chutz la'Aretz, they will eventually arise in Eretz Yisrael.


G-d is Always Right

"The Rock, whose work is perfect, for all His ways are Just " (32:4).

This is the Pasuk that a mourner recites upon burying his deceased relative. It is called 'Tziduk ha'Din', and comprises a public announcement acknowledging that G-d was justified in taking his/her life.

According to some commentaries, Moshe, who was destined to die that day, was saying Tziduk ha'Din on Himself.

AThe Oznayim la'Torah explains that, seeing as this Pasuk appears at the beginning of the prediction of the terrible things that were destined to happen to us in our day and age, Moshe was simply teaching the people to acknowledge that whatever happens, G-d is always right.

Indeed, many people still ask why G-d allowed the Nazis to perpetrate the horrors of the holocaust. What they ought to be saying is that when such things happen to us, it is because we, as a people, deserve it, and that, as the Pasuk informs us in Tehilim (25), it is merely His way of guiding us back to His service.

* * *

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