SEPTEMBER 14-15, 2012 28 ELUL 5772
"You are all standing here today." (Debarim 29:9)
"It shall be a day of shofar-blowing for you." (Bemidbar 29:1)
There are many hints to the month of Elul throughout Tanach. At first glance one of these hints seems difficult to understand. A pasuk in the Megillat Esther (9:22) states: ?and sending delicacies to one another and gifts to the poor." The first letters of the last four words (in Hebrew) spell out the name Elul. The obvious question is: What is the connection between these two misvot of Purim, and Elul?
When a kingdom is full of people who are always fighting and squabbling, it is an indication that these people have their own interests uppermost in their minds. On the other hand, when there is unity among the subjects of the king, this is a sign that the primary focus of their lives is the glory of the king.
The Alshich Hakadosh writes that the expression teruah (referring to the blowing of the shofar), as in Yom Teruah (Bemidbar 29:1), the name the Torah designates as the title for the day of Rosh Hashanah, is closely related to the term re'ut, friendship. In fact, there is a pasuk in Nehemiah (8:10) that speaks of Rosh Hashanah and also refers to people sending manot (portions) to one another.
One Ereb Rosh Hashanah, the Gerrer Rebbe was occupied with all of his last minute preparations for the Day of Judgment. He was in his office, deep in thought, when one of his assistants knocked gently on the door. When the Rebbe called him in, he whispered something into the Rebbe's ear. The Rebbe looked up, stopped what he was doing, and walked toward the door.
An elderly Sephardic Jew stood there holding a package of food, which he handed to the Rebbe. The Rebbe looked at the package in surprise. The old man explained himself with one short comment, "The Pri Chadash (Rabbi Chizkiyahu ben David DeSilva)) was the Rav of Yerushalayim."
Those who witnessed the strange event asked the Rebbe to elaborate. He responded that the Pri Chadash mentions that he would give a Mishloah Manot on Ereb Rosh Hashanah (based on the aforementioned pasuk in Nehemiah). Wanting to fulfill this dictum, the old man had brought the package of food, knowing that the Rebbe would appreciate the sentiment.
I am looking forward this holiday to praying together as friends in honor of the King. Tizku Leshanim Rabot. Happy Holiday. Rabbi Reuven Semah
When the Jewish people heard the ninety-eight curses said to them in last week's perashah, the Midrash says that they turned white from fear. Moshe then told them, "You are all standing here today," meaning, although you may have done things wrong in the past, you're still around, so don't worry so much. This seems to be self-defeating, for if Moshe is telling them not to be afraid, why then do we read the ninety-eight terrifying curses?
The answer is that once we took the message to heart and became afraid, at that point Moshe can console us and say, "Don't worry," because that means we got the message. This is similar to a school teacher who shows his students the "stick" that he uses to punish if they don't behave. He will never have to use it during the year if on the first day, he scares them with the stick to keep them in line. It says in the laws of Rosh Hashanah that we don't say Hallel on this holiday, since the books of life and death are open. How then can we say Hallel? Yet the law is that we dress up for Rosh Hashanah and have a festive meal. Aren't these two things contradictory? The answer is the same. Once we come to the realization that it's such a serious day that we can't even say Hallel though it's a holiday, then and only then can we allow ourselves to dress up and eat a festive meal. We must take these days very seriously, realizing that our whole year depends on how we pray and how we act on Rosh Hashanah. Then we can be assured to be inscribed in the book of life, health and happiness. Tizku leshanim rabot. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"You also remembered Noah with love…when You brought the waters of the flood…because of the wickedness of their deeds." (Amidah of Musaf Rosh Hashanah)
Why do we base our plea on Noah? Can't we find any other Jewish sadikim?
Noah is referred to as a sadik bedorotav - righteous in his generation. Some explain that this means, in comparison to his contemporaries he was righteous, but had he lived in Abraham's generation he would be naught (Beresheet 6:9, Rashi).
In our prayer we are saying, "You remembered Noah with love when You brought the flood." Though he, too, should have drowned, You separated him because You took into consideration the "wickedness of their deeds," and when he is measured against them, the people of his generation, he is a sadik. Likewise, measure us against the people of the world we live amongst, and regardless how we may have failed You, in comparison to them we are sadikim and are worthy to be lovingly remembered by You. (Vedibarta Bam)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org (Privacy of email limited by the email address)
Please pass this message along. Tizku L'misvot.
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