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"The first of the seventh month shall be a day of rest for you. It is remembrance of sounding blasts, a holy coming-together. No manner of work may be done…" (23:33-34)
These very brief words allude to Rosh Hashanah. It does not say yom terua yihyeh lachem (Num 29:1) - it shall be a day of sounding blasts, but zichron terua - a remembrance of sounding blasts. Rashi explains that the remembrance alludes to zichronot and shofarot: the verses said in conjunction with the blowing of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah calling on G-d to remember the Israelites for good.
The Kli Yakar observes that there is no actual reference to Yom Hadin, that Rosh Hashanah is the day on which G-d judges all people. This, writes the Kli Yakar, is for a reason. G-d sits in judgment every day (Rosh Hashanah 16a); a person should be thinking about self-improvement every day in the year, not just during the period of repentance.
Similary, the Kli Yakar points out, Shavuot includes no reference to Matan Torah, that the Torah was given on Shavuot. For Torah learning as well as self-improvement should occur daily, and not just to be something to be celebrated on Shavuot. Learning and revisiting a Torah text or concept should always open up a new insight and give it the freshness of having viewed it for the first time. This idea, suggests the Kli Yakar, is hinted in the "mincha chadasha" a new grain offering (23:16), the words used to describe the Omer offering brought on Shavuot. Literally referring to the Omer offering, the word chadash also hints that the underlying root of the day - matan Torah - should always be a source of new ideas, insights, and feelings of commitment.
Thus Shavuot is a celebration of learning Torah, which is a daily activity. And Rosh Hashanah is a culmination of days of daily striving towards self improvement, also a daily activity. Moreover, it is precisely the daily Torah learning and daily striving for improvement that enable the individual to relate to Shavuot and Rosh Hashanah on a deeper level which will in turn inspire further commitment in the forthcoming year. Like the Daf Hayomi siyyum, it is a much deeper celebration for the individual who has worked his way through shas than for another person who merely watches the proceedings as a spectator.
It may in addition be suggested that zichron terua indirectly hints at Yom Hadin, in the following way.
The Torah instructs (during Temple times) that:
When you go to war in your Land against an enemy who oppresses you, you shall sound short blasts (ve-ha-ray-otem, from the word terua) of the trumpets. You shall be remembered before the Lord your G-d, and you shall be saved from your enemies (Num. 10:9).
And straight afterwards:
On the days of your rejoicing and festivals… you shall sound the trumpets (utekatem - from the word tekiah, which elsewhere is used to refer to the blowing of the shofar)… and they shall be a remembrance for you before the Lord your G-d… (Num. 10:10).
This may be seen as a hint of the content and mood of Rosh Hashanah. One should remember - through the 'sounding of blasts' that it is a day of judgment for the forthcoming year. It could be a year - G-d forbid - of bad tidings: represented by 'an enemy who oppresses you'. It could be a year of good tidings: represented by 'days of your rejoicing'. It is up to the Jewish people to remember that Rosh Hashanah is the day that G-d makes that decision. Therefore they should conduct themselves in a positive and suitable way for that occasion, so they may fulfill Moses' powerful injunction: 'You shall choose life, so that you and your children shall live' (Deut. 30:19).
For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/questions/ and on the material on the Haftara at http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/haftara/ .
Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.
Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site: http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/archives/archives.htm
Also by Jacob Solomon:
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