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Haftarah: Hoshea 14:2-10, Yoel 2:11-27, Micah 7:18-20

SEPTEMBER 6-7, 2013 3 TISHREI 5774

Rosh Hashanah will be celebrated from Wednesday night, Sept. 4 to Friday, Sept.6

Som Gedalia will be observed on Sunday, Sept. 8.


"It shall be a day of shofar-sounding for you." Bemidbar 29:1)

Rosh Hashanah is a day of judgment, but it is also a day of intense closeness to Hashem, no matter what we have done to threaten that relationship. It is a day when we can change the past and strengthen our bond for the future.

Rabbi Y. Spero tells a true story. In the early 1800's there was a great uprising against the Czar. The Czar sent the best soldiers to quell the insurrection. The soldiers fought valiantly to defend the honor of the Czar. Before long the insurgents were captured and most of them were killed for their role in the rebellion. They captured the leader and were shocked to discover that he was none other than the son of the Czar.

The soldiers knew they had to reveal this information to the Czar but they broke it to him slowly. When they came to the palace they first informed him about the battle, which was good news. But then the inevitable moment came, and the Czar wanted to know who led the revolt. When he discovered it was his own son, he reacted stoically. The verdict was clear and definitive. There would be no leniency in the face of conspiracy. "My son must be put to death," said the Czar. The Czar explained that the world must know what the consequences are for such behavior.

To show the Czar a measure of mercy, the military decided to execute the rebel far away from the palace, in a secluded area. As fate would have it, a few days later, the Czar was taking his leisurely daily stroll in the outskirts of town when he noticed that nearby his soldiers were conducting some sort of ceremony. He came close and realized he had come to the site of the execution. The soldiers asked the Czar if he would like to stay the execution. He refused without hesitation. Instead, he approached his son with tears in his eyes saying, "You understand that I cannot stay the execution."

His son nodded, and although he could not articulate his feelings at that time, it was clear that he was terribly sorry. "I understand, Father. You must do what you must do." The Czar gave the order to carry out the death sentence and the young man was asked if he had any last words. He motioned that he did, and then stepped forward and proudly declared, "Long live the Czar!"

The Czar heard his son's words and immediately jumped up. "Stop the execution! Let him live!"

And as they released the prisoner form his shackles, with tears in his eyes, he ran toward his father and fell at his feet.

We have clearly sinned against Hashem, our Father, and for that He really has no choice but to punish us. But as we blow the shofar, we declare, "Long live the King!" Hashem hears this and He lovingly awaits our return.

Shabbat Shalom and Tizku Leshanim Rabot. Rabbi Reuven Semah

As we approach the Days of Awe, we should take a moment to realize how fortunate we are, compared to the rest of the world. It says that everyone in the creation, including angels, is judged on Rosh Hashanah. That means, billions of people will be going about their daily business on the New Year while being judged for their life and health. We, the Jewish People, are the only ones that will be doing something about this judgment. We will be in shul praying, hearing the shofar being blown, and in general trying to better ourselves so that we can merit a better year. Are we not truly blessed that we have this "inside" information, which can influence the kind of judgment we want for our families?

Let us use these days for preparation, and on Rosh Hashanah, the fact that we know we're being judged and are doing something about it will be a source of merit for ourselves, our families, and community and the whole Jewish People. Tizku Leshanim Rabot! Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

* * * * *

A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.

Call to 646-279-8712 or email (Privacy of email limited by the email address)

Please pass this message along. Tizku L'misvot.

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