Erev Rosh HaShanah Young Community Dinner
When: Sunday October 2nd, 7:30pm
What: Catered Kosher Holiday Meal with Wine & Friends
Who: Your Tel Aviv Young Jewish Community, Internationals & Sabras
20s & 30s only
Where: North Central Synagogue,126 Ben Yehuda Street, Tel Aviv Ir HaKodesh
It’s a well-known axiom that the weekly parsha has direct relevance to the issues of the day. Therefore, one need only read the words of the upcoming parsha, Nitzavim, that begins with the fearsome statement,“Ye are standing this day all of you before the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 29:9), to prepare for the day of judgment. The “literal” words tell the story and the follow up discussion of the ideas of Rosh Hashana match the message of the parsha.
I. Nitzavim 29:9 – 30:20
II. Rosh Hashana
The Talmud (Rosh Hashanah 8a) derives that the world is judged from Rosh Hashanah until the end of the year from the verse (Deuteronomy 11:12) that states: The eyes of G‑d, your L-rd, are upon it [the land] from the beginning of the year until the end of the year – i.e., from Rosh Hashanah, the world is judged as to what will transpire throughout the year.
Our Sages said:
On Rosh Hashanah all of mankind pass before Him like sheep -they pass by Him one by one, one after the other, yet He scrutinizes them all with a single glance. Thus, the verse (Psalms 33:15) states: “He created all of their hearts together and understands all of their actions”; G‑d, Who is the Creator, sees all of their hearts together (with a single glance) and understands all of their actions.
R. Cruspedai said in the name of R. Yochanan: Three ledgers are opened on Rosh Hashanah: one for those who are entirely wicked, one for those who are entirely righteous, and one for those who are in the middle. The entirely righteous are immediately inscribed and sealed to live. The entirely wicked are immediately inscribed and sealed to die. The fate of those in the middle is held in balance between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
If they have merit [i.e., if they repent), they are inscribed to live. If they do not have merit [i.e., if they fail to repent), they are inscribed to die (ibid. 16 a,b).
The commentators grapple with the idea that Shabbos is a day of happiness, as we recite in Shemone Esrei yismichu vimalchuscha shomrei Shabbos vikorei oneg, they shall rejoice in Your Kingship – those who observe the Shabbos and call it a delight. Yet, throughout Jewish history, the Jewish People have suffered greatly and the day of Shabbos was not an exception. In this week’s parashah, the Torah discusses the consequences that will befall the Jewish People if they do not adhere to the Torah. It is said (Devarim 28:47) tachas asher lo avadata es HaShem Elokecha bisimcha uvituv leivav meirov kol, because you did not serve HaShem, your G-d, amid gladness and goodness of heart, when everything was abundant. The Gerrer Rebbe, the Bais Yisroel, writes that the Gemara (Chulin 101b) states that Shabbos is kivia vikyama, permanent and stationary. This alludes to the idea that despite the fact that the Bais HaMikdash has been destroyed, the power of Shabbos remains in a permanent state for the Jewish People. The Sfas Emes writes that the destruction was a result of the Jewish People not serving HaShem out of joy. It then follows that when the Jewish People are in exile and lacking abundance, and still they serve HaShem with joy, they will merit the Ultimate Redemption. The Bais Yisroel continues by saying that although it is said (Devarim 28:65) uvagoyim haheim lo sargia, and among those nations you will not be tranquil, this refers to the weekday. On Shabbos, however, the Jewish People will find peace. This idea, however, still requires further explanation. Have we not seen that even on Shabbos the Jewish People have suffered? During the Holocaust, Jews were at times tortured on Shabbos even more than they were tortured during the week. How, then, can we always be instructed to be joyful on the Holy Day of Shabbos? Perhaps the answer to this question can be found in our understanding of joy and redemption. While it is certainly easier to be at rest and full of joy when we are not persecuted by our enemies, there is a concept of inner joy that exists even at times of persecution and suffering. The Sefarim (Degel Machanei Ephraim quoting Tikkunim) write that although we read the tochacha, the rebuke that is found in this week’s parasha, as curses, concealed within the curses are blessings. The Bais Yisroel writes that one can overcome the curses by cleaving to HaShem. This, he writes, is reflected in Shabbos, as Shabbos is a blessing, and a curse cannot become attached to a blessing. It is noteworthy that the end of last week’s parasha discusses the commandment to eradicate Amalek, the nation who attacked us without warning when we left Egypt. The beginning of this week’s parasha discusses the commandment of bringing Bikkurim, the first fruits, to the Bais HaMikdash. When one brings Bikkurim, he opens his declaration of gratitude with the words (26:5) arami oveid avi, an Aramean tried to destroy my forefather. Thus, at a time of heightened jubilation, we invoke the painful memory of destruction and exile.
The Shabbos Connection
This is parallel to the idea that is reflected in Shabbos, where we demonstrate that despite the apparent curses that surround us, we are truly ensconced in blessing, and the curse will never be associated with the blessing. Thus, the idea that we must be joyful on Shabbos is not just a fantasy, but a reality. Shabbos is a day of joy, and HaShem should allow us to merit the ultimate joy, with the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkienu, speedily, in our days.
Shabbos in the Zemiros
The composer was Dunash ben Librat, the famed medieval grammarian and paytan who lived from 4680-4750 (920990 C.E.). He was born in Baghdad and, except for twenty years in Fez, lived there his entire life. He was a nephew and disciple of Rabbeinu Saadiah Gaon and was acquainted with many of the Sages of his time. Rashi and Ibn Ezra quote him extensively. His name appears four times as the acrostic of the stitches in stanzas 1,2,3, and 6. This zemer is a prayer to HaShem to protect the Jewish People, destroy its tormentors, and bring the Nation peace and redemption.
וְלַמַּזְהִיר וְלַנִּזְהָר. שְׁלוֹמִים תֵּן כְּמֵי נָהָר, to the exhorters and the scrupulous, give peace as flowing as a river’s waters. When the entire Jewish world will observe Shabbos, the world will be at peace. Indeed, the Gemara (Shabbos 118b) states that had the Jewish People only observed the first Shabbos in the Wilderness, no race or nation could have assailed them. Hashem should allow us to all observe Shabbos properly and bring everlasting peace to the world. It is noteworthy that the words זהו וְלַמַּזְהִיר וְלַנִּזְהָר equals in gematria the word תרי”ג, alluding to the idea that one who observes the Shabbos is akin to having observed the entire Torah.
All the Healing is in my Wife’s Merit
At the turn of the 19th century, before the First World War, there were still great rebbes that could heal; there was the Kerestirer Rebbe, Reb Yeshaya. He did not place his hands on a person or speak – but if you ate food in his house, you went away healed. When his wife Sarah died, the Rebbe wept terribly and would not be consoled. He told the Chasidim, “You probably thought that people who ate in my house were healed because of me. That’s not true. It was because of my holy wife, Sarah. Now that she’s gone I can tell you. Listen to this story of what happened. ‘In our younger days we were desperately poor. If we ate one meal a week we would have food to eat on Shabbos, but we wouldn’t be able to have any guests. So we fasted from Shabbos to Shabbos. Then we had enough food for ourselves and for some guests. One week, my holy wife was cooking on Friday for Shabbos, when a drunkard knocked on the door and was invited in. He was reeking of alcohol but he said to my wife, ‘I’m starving, do you have anything to eat?’ We had not eaten that whole week, but who knows how long he had been without food, and when someone says they’re starving, how can you not feed them? So my wife gave him from the food she had prepared for Shabbos. After finishing what she gave him, however, he asked, ‘Is there more?’ Each time he ate whatever was put before him and asked for more, until she said, ‘There’s not a crumb left.’ She gave him everything she had prepared for our Shabbos meals. She gave him everything gently and respectfully, because she was doing a great mitzvah and good deed. She didn’t judge him by how he looked or for his crude behavior, for who knows what troubles he had suffered? “Then this drunkard did something unusual. He asked, ‘Can I speak to your husband?’ My wife came to my room and told me about his request and, when I agreed, my wife sent him to me. When he came in, he no longer smelled and he didn’t appear drunk. In fact, his face was glowing, and I realized at once that this was Elijah the Prophet. He said to me, ‘I only came here to bless your wife. Her kindness has made a great impression in heaven. But we wanted to give her a final test to see if she was worthy of the great blessing we have in store for her. She passed the test.’ “What was the great blessing? It was the blessing of healing.” And that,” said the Rebbe, “was why the food my holy wife served healed whoever ate it.” [Mai Ber Yeshayahu, pp. 43-44.]
When Rebbe Yeshaya of Kerestirer was on his deathbed and close to his final hours, he called over one of his intimates and whispered, “In a little while there will be a ‘funeral’ here and many people will be coming from far away. So please put a very big pot on the stove and boil a lot of potatoes, and then cook them with a lot of chicken fat, because I want all those Jews to have some tasty food after their long trip.” [Reshumim Bishimcha, p. 360]
Shabbos in Halacha
Wringing and Laundering
Two melachos that pertain to washing dishes and cleaning spills on Shabbos are סחיטה; wringing, and כיבוס: laundering. Previously we discussed sechita as it applies to extracting juice from fruits. Here we will discuss the halachos of wringing liquid from an absorbent fabric. We will also briefly discuss the laws of laundering as applied to common situations.
- Wringing Liquid from a Fabric
- The Prohibitions
One is prohibited from squeezing out liquid from a fabric in which it was absorbed. Depending on the person’s intentions, this can fall under two Torah prohibitions: If one wrings out a fabric in order to salvage the liquid, i.e. for washing, he violates the melacha of סחיטה: wringing; if one wrings out a fabric in order to cleanse the fabric, he violates the melacha of כיבוס: laundering. There is a significant conceptual difference between these two types of wringing. In the first case one accomplishes the acquisition of a liquid; this is similar to extracting juice from a fruit. In the second case, one improves the quality of the fabric by expelling liquid; this is a completely different accomplishment.
If one performs wringing with neither of these intentions, it is still prohibited by Rabbinic Decree. Thus, even if the liquid will go to waste and the fabric will not be cleansed, one is prohibited from squeezing out any liquid.
The gematria of the word תשובה is 713. We know there are Taryag Mitzovs, 613 commandments. How does one reach full Teshuva? He listens to the 100 blasts of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah. This 100 then transforms the 613 mitzvos into a sphere of 713 (תשובה). Appropriately, the shofar blast will signal the “return” of the Jewish people when Moshiach comes. We blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah to remind us of G‑d’s salvation in our own lives.
The simple answer is no. The first Mishna of Kiddushin discusses the three ways a man can acquire a woman for marriage. Furthermore, only later in the tractate does the Gemara discuss the mitzvah incumbent upon a father to teach his son Torah.
However, it may be said there is still a remez to Talmud Torah in the Mishna, for a “woman” in the feminine can refer to Torah, which would then correspond to the three ways the Torah is acquired; through Kesef – supporting the Torah, Shtar – by supporting the writing of the Torah or for writing one or for writing chiddushei Torah or by the third way, Be’ah – to toil in the Torah and acquire it through the sweat of the brow. (Later the Gemara includes Chupah a means of acquisition which is symbolic of receiving the Torah at Har Sinai).
But if we don’t accept the remez, why in fact does the tractate not begin with the most important mitzvah of Talmud Torah? For this we can look at the creation of the world, as Genesis begins with G-d’s creations, not Talmud Torah.
It must be that the lesson of Genesis is that place and acquisition are prerequisites for Torah. If one knows his place and has “acquired” a self identity, he can absorb the depths of the Torah.
This can be the reason why the Gemara Kiddushin begins with the laws of acquisitions first and then only later discusses Talmud Torah. It conveys that first a place of self knowledge with the ability to acquire must be established and then a masterful conquering of the depth and majesty of Talmud Torah can be effectuated.
Ki Tavo simply translates to mean “when you come..to the land.” Targum Onkelos (which the Gemara Megillah says was given at Sinai), however, translates the meaning to be when you are תעול, “go up” to the land. The Targum should awaken every soul to the majesty of Israel, for it is a land that’s raised above all others and carries with it the highest potential for spirituality.