Rosh Hashana 5767 – Gilayon #514

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Rosh Hashana







HaShana 16a)


The shofar sounded on Rosh HaShana [in the Temple] is straight and its mouthpiece covered with gold and two

trumpets [are sounded by people standing] at the sides [of the person blowing

the shofar]. The [blast of the] shofar

is long and that of the trumpets short, since the commandment of the day is [to

blow] the shofar.

(Mishnah Rosh HaShana



Rabbi Levi said: "The

commandment [of shofar] of Rosh HaShana

and of Yom Kippur is [to be performed] with a curved [shofar],

while the commandment [of the shofar] for the rest of

the year is with a straight [shofar]." But the mishnah states that "The shofar sounded on Rosh HaShana

[in the Temple] is straight"! When he [Rabbi Levi] said this he was

following a Tanna, as is stated in a braita: "Rabbi Yehuda

says: 'On Rosh HaShana they

would blow curved [horns] taken from males, and in Jubilees [they would blow

horns take] from ibexes."… What is the matter of contention between

them? The one thinks: on Rosh HaShana,

the more a person bends himself the better and on Yom Kippur the more a person

straightens himself the better. The other thinks: on Rosh HaShana the more a person straightens himself the

better and on fast days the more a person bends himself the better.


HaShana 26b)


Rabbi Yaakov of Rome said:

And why do we sound animal horns? To say – consider us as if we were bleating

before You like an animal.


Ta'anit 2:5)


We wish a good year to all of our readers,

to the entire House of Israel, and to all the world's inhabitants.

A year of peace and tranquility.

Let the old year pass with its curses, let

the new year begin with its blessings.

And may we be inscribed in the book of Life,

for Your sake, O living God.



edition of Shabbat Shalom and my own words in it


dedicated to the memory of my father and teacher, Moshe Nativ,

teacher and educator,


passed away on the 5th of Tishrei 5753

Seeing Far – Seeing transparently

Gil Nativ


passage states


up this Mount Avarim [to] Mount Nebo,… and see the Land of Canaan, which I am giving to the

children of Israel as a possession… For from afar, you will see the land, but

you will not come there, to the land I am giving the children of Israel (Devarim


while another

passage states


Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, [to the] top of the summit…

And the Lord showed him all the Land (Devarim 34:1).


is the difference between the two passages?

In parashat Ha'azinu Moses is

commanded to look with mortal eyes. While at the age of a hundred and twenty

years Moses' vision had not dimmed, it still remained human vision limited by

human horizons. The temporal horizon was also limited – limited to the

foreseeable future. For it the land was still the Land of Canaan. The

imprint of the original inhabitants had not been erased from its landscape and

character, and anyone with eyes to see would say that its Canaanism

would continue to influence the first generations of its new inhabitants. Only

on Mount Nebo, when Moses became imbued with the holy spirit

just before his death, was he granted a different kind of vision.

Rabbeinu Behayeiy writes on the phrase For from afar, you will

see the land: "The word tirehyou

will see – includes both seeing through the faculty of the eye and seeing

by way of the mind's eye, for through the mind's eye He showed him the land from

far away, that is to say, the land beyond the Land Of Canaan, and so I

think it can be explained that because of this He had to go back and add, to

the land I am giving the children of Israel, rather than being

satisfied with having said, but you will not come there…"

In parashat VeZot HaBrakha God shows Moses that which the human eye cannot

see from the peak of Mount Nebo: The Gilead until Dan,

and all [the land of] Naftali, and the land of

Ephraim and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, until the final sea. The

human eye cannot see the "final sea" [the

Mediterranean] from that vantage point unless the hills of Efrayim

and Judea become transparent. Moses' vision is so farsighted that it not only

crosses geographical borders, but also temporal borders as well. He foresees

the future in which the land's hills and districts will be named after

Israelites: Gilead, Dan, Naftali, Efrayim,

etc… He sees new situations that will occur in the future. And so Rashi explains regarding each of the tribal territories

mentioned in the verse: "He showed him their lands in their tranquility

and in their destruction." Rashi explains the

phrase until the final sea thus: "Do not read it hayam ha'aharon ["the

final sea"] but rather hayom ha'aharon ["the final day"] – the Holy One

blessed be He showed him all of the events that would

occur to Israel until the resurrection of the dead…"


spread one's wings and fly to a place where, perhaps like Mount Nebo, you can

see far and see transparently" (quoted from a

song written by Yankele Rotblit,

music by Shmuelik Krauss). The transparency of hills

and future times granted Moses before his death is the ability to understand

that in the course of human history things occur which are difficult to explain

in terms of causal or probabilistic laws. Such events are impossible to

foresee. For example: who would have believed that the number two superpower in

the world, the USSR, would break down into independent countries – not in the

as the result of war, but rather due to internal social pressures?


describes the future in the song Ha'azinu. It is a

cyclical future: Jeshurun grew fat and kicked – the

punishment for this "kick" is destruction and/or exile. Reacting to

the punishment, the people repent; as a result of their repentance they return

to the land of their fathers to enjoy blessings and bounty. As a consequence of

their renewed success – Jeshurun grew fat

and kicked… and over and over again.


far-reaching and transparent vision on Mount Nebo lets him see the future break

down of this vicious circle. Only from his lonely spot on Mount Nebo can he see

it, for no other mortal is worthy of sharing this level of prophecy, i.e., the

ability to see how the deterministic cycle of history will be finally broken

both for the People Israel and for humanity in general, ushering in the "post-historical"

age in which "the dead shall be resurrected."


long as we exist within the deterministic cycle of history, repentance at the

public-national level will be a continual, unending process.


personal repentance a unique one-time act, or a continual movement in a certain



father and teacher, Moshe Nativ, left Sha'ar Hesed, the neighborhood of

his childhood and youth, and the yeshiva in which he studied, slamming the door

behind him. Like many young people his age, he was swept up in the fervor of

Zionist work and the Zionist struggle. He served in the Irgun

and afterwards left it to join the Palmach. He

underwent a slow process of hazara beteshuva [returning to Judaism] during the years

following the creation of the State. I remember hearing him deliberating out

loud: when millions of Jews live in the Land of Israel and no one questions our

right to a sovereign Jewish state in the Land – then what will happen? Will the

verse Without vision, the people become

unrestrained (Proverbs 29:18) prove to be true? What "ideal" will

future educators set before their students? Once I asked him: at what point did

your pendulum begin its swing back towards the Jewish tradition? He answered

that this occurred at the end of his period of service in the Palmach, when he read Mahatma Gandhi's autobiography, The

Story of My Experiment with Truth. That book caused him to re-examine his

relationship with the heritage of his parents and teachers, the heritage of



man who devoted most of his life to teshuva

[repentance] died in the middle of the Ten Days of Repentance. May his

memory be blessed!

Rabbi Gil Nativ serves as rabbi of the Magen

Avraham congregation in Omer


Man Comes from Dust

At first glance, this is a low view of man, to say that

"man comes from dust and ends in dust," but actually these words

denote praise of man, who was hewn from a holy source, from our father Abraham,

peace be upon him, who said, I am but earth and ashes (Bereishit 18). "And he ends in dust" –

this refers to the Days of Messiah, about which David said, For

our soul is bowed down to the dust (Psalms


(Rabbi Yehoshua of Ostroveh; Sefer Toldedot Adam. Quoted by

S. Y. Agnon in Days of Awe, p.86)


You encompass me

earlier and later

R. Shimon ben Lakish said: Later refers to the creation of the last day, and earlier refers to the creation of the first day. This is the opinion of R.

Shimon ben Lakish, for R.

Shimon ben Lakish said: The spirit of God hovering over the face of

the waters – this is the spirit of

the Anointed King – the Messiah. How, then, to understand that which is

written, And the spirit of God will rest upon him? If man merits, he will be told: "You

preceded the ministering angels," and if not, he is told: "The fly

preceded you, the mosquito preceded you, this worm

preceded you."

(Bereishit Rabba, 8:1)


When Is Man Judged?

It is taught in a Baraita: All

[things] are judged on Rosh Hashanah, and their verdict is sealed on Yom

Kippur, so said Rabbi Meir.

R. Yehudah said: Everything is

judged on Rosh Hashanah, but verdicts are sealed for each in its own time; on Pesah for the grains, on Shavuot for the fruits of the

tree, on Sukkot for water and man is judged on

Rosh Hashanah, and his verdict is sealed on Yom Kippur.

R. Yossi says: Man is judged daily,

as is written, You inspect him every morning

(Job 7:18).

R. Natan says: Man is judged every

hour, as is written Examine him every minute (ibid.).

(Rosh HaShana



This is the reason that the Day of Judgment of Rosh

Hashanah is omitted [from the parasha], so that man

will not behave arbitrarily, adapting himself to sin all days of the year,

thinking to correct his ways as he approaches the Day of the Lord on which He

sits on the throne of judgment; he should rather imagine that every day God

sits on His throne for judgment, and he should check his record book, and

thereby he will constantly be in a state of repentance, and there is the

opinion which says "Man is judged daily" (Rosh

Hashanah 16), as is written You inspect him every morning, examine

him every second (Job 7:18).


Yakar, Vayikra 16)


And this explains "man is judged every

day" and not "they [the Heavenly court] judge him every

day" as though to say that he is judged from within himself, as

though it [judgment] is conducted automatically…


Nahal, Parashat Nitzavim)


There is no doubt that the statements by R. Yossi and R. Natan express the

deepest conception of faith. Man's standing in the world is not a matter of a

verdict imposed upon him on some specific date; it is an expression of man's

constant standing before God. There is not a moment in his life in which he is

not being judged. What, then, is the particular relevance of Rosh HaShana here? Against the

background of the above, we can say that Rosh HaShana is not a Day of Judgment; it is a "Yom

Teruah"of sounding the shofar – and a reminder by shofar

blasting, intended to remind man of the fact that he is constantly

being judged.

(Y. Leibowitz:

Sihot al Haggei Yisrael u'Moadav, p.165)


God's World is a World of faith, Justice, Uprightness, and Mercy

A faithful God (Devarim

32:4) – Who believed in the

world and created it.

Never false (ibid) – For people did not come [into the world]

to be evil, but rather to be righteous. And so he says: God made people

upright, but they sought many accountings (Kohelet 7:29).

True and upright is He (Devarim 32:4)

– He treats all the world's inhabitants honestly.


Ha'azinu 307)


All this is obvious and clear, for God is a God of truth. It is this idea

which is embodied in the statement of Moses our Teacher, may peace be upon him,

the Rock – His work is whole; for all of His ways are just. He is a God of

faithfulness, without wrong… (Devarim 32:4). Since the Holy One blessed be He desires justice, ignoring the bad would be as much of

an injustice as ignoring the good. If He desires justice then He must deal with

each man according to his ways and according to the fruits of his acts, with

the most minute discrimination, or good or for bad. This is what underlies the

statement of our Sages of blessed memory that the verse He is a God of

faithfulness, without wrong; He is righteous and just has application to

the righteous as well as to the wicked. For this is His attribute. He judges

everything. He punishes every sin. There is no escaping. To those who might ask

at this point, "Seeing that whatever the case may be, everything must be

subjected to judgment, what function does the attribute of mercy perform?"

the answer is that the attribute of mercy is certainly the mainstay of the

world; for the world could not exist at all without it. Nevertheless the

attribute of justice is not affected. For on the basis of justice alone it

would be dictated that the sinner be punished immediately upon sinning, without

the least delay; that the punishment itself be a wrathful one, as befits one

who rebels against the word of the Creator, blessed be His Name; and that there

be no correction whatsoever for the sin. For in truth, how can a man straighten

what has been made crooked after the commission of the sin? If a man killed his

neighbor; if he committed adultery – how can he correct this? Can he remove the

accomplished fact from actuality?

It is the attribute of mercy which causes the reverse of the three things

we have mentioned. That is, it provides that the sinner be given time, and not

be wiped out as soon as he sins; that the punishment itself not involve utter

destruction; and that the gift of repentance be given to sinners with absolute

loving-kindness, so that the rooting out of the will which prompted the deed be

considered a rooting-out of the deed itself.


Mesilat Yesharim

chapter 4, Silverstein translation)


The explanation is to be found in the verse The Rock, whole and perfect

are his deeds… true and upright is He from the Ha'azinu

song. The tribute upright is given to justify The Holy One's destruction

of the Second Temple – [in the days of] a crooked and perverse generation. We

had previously explained that they were tzaddikim

[righteous] and hassidim

[pious] and devoted great efforts to Torah, but they were not upright in their

actions. Because of the baseless hatred they harbored for each other, they

suspected those whose fear of God was expressed differently than their own,

accused them of being Sadducees and apikorsim

["Epicureans" – heretics], and this led to bloodshed and division and

to all the evils in the world, until the House was laid waste. The tzidduk hadinthe

justification of the sentence – was for this; The Holy One, Blessed Be He, is

upright, and he does not tolerate this brand of tzaddikim.

[He accepts] those who walk on the path of the upright even in their civil

behavior, not in crookedness – even though it [the crookedness] be for the sake

of heaven, for this is what leads to the destruction of creation and the

desolation of civilization.

(The NeTziV,

from the introduction to his commentary Ha'Amek

Davar, on the Bereishit)


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