Rosh Hashana 5767 – Gilayon #514
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RABBI ABAHU SAID: WHY DO WE
SOUND A SHOFAR TAKEN FROM A RAM? THE HOLY ONE BLESSED BE HE SAID: SOUND BEFORE
ME A SHOFAR TAKEN FROM A RAM IN ORDER THAT I REMEMBER THE BINDING OF ISAAC SON
OF ABRAHAM FOR YOUR SAKES, AND CREDIT IT TO YOU AS IF YOU HAD BOUND YOURSELVES
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.
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.
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
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
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 tireh – you
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
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
(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
R. Natan says: Man is judged every
hour, as is written Examine him every minute (ibid.).
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
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
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.
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.
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 hadin – the
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.
from the introduction to his commentary Ha'Amek
Davar, on the Bereishit)
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