Rosh Hashana 5774 – Gilayon #815
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Rosh Hashana – Parshat Ha'azinu
"May my mission upon which
i am embarking be successful"
(From the Meditation of the Shaliach
Tzibur before Musaf)
"Do not be quick with your mouth; do
not be hasty with your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and
you are on earth, so let your words be few. " (Eccl 5:1)
Ezra delineates the proper way to worship God, in his eyes. Firstly, Man should
have a permanent place of worship that he respects. Secondly, Man should praise
God at every moment, even though he is busy in his worldly affairs. He has been
given set times of prayer, evening, morning and afternoon which any simple
person can know by following the movements of the sun. Ibn
Ezra also comes out strongly against reciting piyutim
that are mystic and obscure and one does not fully comprehend. He mentions, in
particular, Rabbi Eliezer Hakalir,
an important composer of liturgy, who wrote mostly in riddles and parables. He
beseeches us to learn from King Solomon, who was the wisest of men, to keep our
prayers short and mindful. Ibn Ezra alludes to vanity
as being evil and that adding to the set liturgy indicates ignorance and
leading to transgression.
(Introduction to Parshat Nitzavim – Rabbenu Behayei)
What is jeremiah's
connection to the new year?
Although Rosh Hashanah
inaugurates a new yearly cycle, this holiday continues the liturgical cycle of
the previous year. Firstly, the month of Elul, is constructed as a prelude to
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur –the recitation of Mizmor
LeDavid, Slichot and the
blowing of the shofar – thereby arriving at Rosh
Hashanah within a specific context.
the haftorahs. As we know,
from the Shabbat after the 17th of Tammuz and up to the Shabbat
before Rosh Hashanah, the sequence of the haftorahs
changes. Three haftorahs of doom and destruction
precede Tisha B'Av, and
afterwards we have seven haftorahs of consolation.
The epicenter of this series is Tisha B'Av, with the many consolations tipping the scale. The
prophecies of consolation, all from the latter half of Isaiah, terminate before
Rosh Hashanah, and the stage is clear for a new context.
The haftorah of the second day of R "H, provides us with
an alternative outlook as to the place of R "H in the yearly calendar.
After we read about Hannah on the first day, we read Jeremiah's emotional
prophecy on the second – "found favor in the wilderness " (31:1).
The common assumption is that this haftorah
emphasizes remembrance. ("For as I speak, I will remember" 31:1)
This prophecy is considered a real prophecy of consolation. After seven haftorahs were chosen from a range of chapters of
consolation from the latter half of Isaiah, comes an
additional prophecy of consolation, albeit from Jeremiah – Jeremiah?? Consolation?? In fact, this haftorah
is part of a small and exceptional chapter in a book that was branded by our
sages as "devoted entirely to destruction" (B"B 14:72).
The choice of this haftorah for Rosh Hashanah creates
a continuum – continuation of the consolation sequence – and innovation – a
switch from Isaiah to Jeremiah. Yet more – a framework has been created: The
sequence of special haftorahs opens with two haftorahs of doom from Jeremiah (and more prophecies of
doom from Isaiah). Now we return to Jeremiah, with this haftorah
that alludes to the opening chapter of Jeremiah that we recited after the 17th
Thus said the Lord
Thus said the Lord
I remember the grace
of your youth, the
love of your betrothed Found grace in the wilderness
How you followed me in
the wilderness With everlasting love I love you
The return to Jeremiah
should be understood against the backdrop of the entire book. It is thought
that the formative events of the Book of Jeremiah occur on the eve of the
150 years earlier. According to the Book of Kings, after the Assyrian army
the Judean cities were destroyed, the Assyrian army encircled
smote the Assyrian camp and Sanherib retreated to
victory, with the support of Isaiah's prophecy (32:19), and with the
answering of Hezekiah's prayers in the temple, lays the background for Jeremiah's
suspicions. Jeremiah's struggle takes place in opposition to the accepted
belief that the miraculous rescue is a result of the prayers in God's house,
and that prayer is the answer to the threats to the
The hubris found in the Book of Deuteronomy ("My strength and my power
have prevailed") is tainted with over reliance in the temple and the
miraculous rescue, as well as the self-fulfilling prophecy. From the beginning
of his prophecy, Jeremiah is enabled to withstand the pressure from the kings
and the people, who hope that "good prophecy" can overcome the
threatening circumstances. Throughout the whole ordeal, Jeremiah refuses to
surrender to the enormous emotional and physical pressure put on him, almost as
an antithesis to Isaiah's prophecy during the Assyrian siege.
Isaiah has a threefold
worldview. There is no security in the temple per se; the society must improve
its ways in order to survive; there is a need to read the international
political map realistically and there is no point in rebelling against the
is expressed in his consolation. This is a melancholy consolation – "They
shall come with weeping, and with compassion will I guide them." (31:9),
with restraint, "Restrain your voice from weeping (31:16),
that emphasizes the negation of the destruction ("And they will mourn
no more" 31:11;
"Parents have eaten sour grapes and children's teeth are blunted"
"They shall never again be uprooted or overthrown" (31:40),
more than the abundance of good. This is how the prophecy differs from the
rose-tinted and optimistic prophecies of consolation of Isaiah that are read
before Rosh Hashanah.
The positioning of
Rosh Hashanah in this framework of the haftorahs of
doom and consolation serves a dual purpose. Firstly, it creates a framework
(doom in Jeremiah > doom in Isaiah > consolation in Isaiah >
consolation in Jeremiah), in which even the doom of Jeremiah is consoling.
Secondly, it gives
another meaning to Rosh Hashanah. We are not speaking about embarking on a
journey, but rather the zenith of the journey that began with the month of
Tammuz. In the familiar structure of 7+1, the haftorah
of R "H is presented the eighth and final segment of consolation. Thus,
the epicenter of the series of haftorahs of doom and
consolation shifts from Tisha B'Av
to Rosh Hashanah.
highpoint is qualified. Rosh Hashanah can console, but this consolation must be
controlled, reserved and cautious, also calling out, "Receive me back,
let me return "
Yoel Kretzmer-Raziel, a
member of Kibbutz Ein Tzurim,
teaches at Mercaz Herzog for Jewish Studies as well
as in other institutions. He is a doctoral student in Talmud at
Horn and shofar
The shofar has
two names: keren, a horn, for its physical shape, the
horny substance of which it is made, Shofar, as in
the inner space that illicit and moderates the sound.
In the beast, the horn signifies strength
and power. A beast directs all its weight when attacking through its horns. He
doesn't utilize the "inner " shofar of the horn. The people of
commanded to use this horn for a different purpose, a human imperative, a
Jewish imperative. Blessed is the nation that knows the sound of the shofar. By using the shofar, the
inner horn, and not the "outer horn ", the sound, not the power, we
change the sentence of the horn to the mercy of the shofar.
Although it is still necessary to use the
keren, the horn, in a world surrounded by raging
bulls, at every turn, we cannot rely on the shofar
alone. We are in need of a keren, a physical horn, to
protect us. We also pray for the revival of the "keren " the light of
your servant David, even though this is only a means to rekindle the light of
the son of Jesse as Messiah. A candle projects light in its path. It
influences, educates, elucidates and explains. The horn, the keren, however should defer to the inner shofar.
(R. Jacob Ariel: The Shofar and its Horn, from: Ohalei
Torah, from the passage ממך אליך
from the R"H Machzor, Ed. By Yonadiv
Rabbi Meir of Rotenberg would say "L'chaim with a shva rather than lachaim with a patah. L'chaim meaning
to life, and lachaim meaning for life, which is
actually from no life. He would say "to a good life, and build up
to "and inscribe us for a good life ", for one should first ask for
something small and then build up to something big, as in life itself. In
Psalms, David begs for forgiveness for sins made in error, then for
transgressions that were willful and only then grave sins. So righteous people
know how to please their maker, as it is said, "The lips of the righteous
know your will… "
(Tor Or Haim
The Sound of Teruah – Sob or Sigh?
The Holy One, Blessed Be He, Does Not Differentiate
Between One Cry and Another
Throughout the years
and in most of the Diaspora, there have existed doubts regarding the nature of
the teruah mentioned in the
Torah. Is it the wail of wailing women? Or is it a sigh,
such as that which a person sighs again and again when his heart is greatly
troubled? Or is it the two together, the sigh and the sob which usually follows
it, for this is the nature of one deeply worried, first he sighs and then he
wails. Therefore we execute all three.
Laws of Shofar 3:2)
shall observe a day of teruah" – and we
interpret this: You shall observe a day of sobbing." It is written in
connection with the mother of Sisera (Judges
5): "Through the window
peered Sisera's mother, behind the lattice she
whined." One [authority]
says she sighed, and another says she wailed.
(Bavli, Rosh Hashanah 33b)
Heavy sighing – As one who sighs heavily from his
heart, like sick people
Wailing – like a man who cries out and wails, short
bursts of crying.
(Rashi, R "H
Said Rabbi Elazar: From the day the
gates of prayer have been shut, as is written (Eicha 3:8) "And when I cry and plead, He shuts out my prayer."
"Listen o heavens": Because Moses was close to heaven, he
said "Listen O heavens " because he was far
from the land, he said: "Let the earth hear the words I utter ". Isaiah
comes along and turns it upside down and said, "Hear the heavens and
listen to the land' (Isaiah 1). Listen to the heavens because he was far
from the heaven and hear the earth as he was far from the earth.
(Sifri Hazinu 306)
Heaven and earth are the
components of man
Man is composed of the
spiritual part which is symbolized by heaven and materiel parts expressed by
the earth. When God addresses the spiritual man, he uses the softer tones of
listen, but when he has harsh words to say to man , he
uses "hear " as in "the earth hears ".
(Ohr Hachaim Deut, 32:1)
But even though the gates of prayer were shut, the gates of tears were not shut,
as is written (Psalms 39:13) "Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my
cry; do not disregard my tears; for like all my forebears I am an alien,
resident with You."
(Bavli, B "M 59:71)
Our success is dependent on our spiritual
position and not in our military strength
can one have routed a thousand, or two put ten thousand to flight, Unless their
Rock had sold them, the Lord had given them up? "
can one have routed a thousand" – If you do not
observe the Torah, how can I keep my promise to you? You asked that one of you
rout a thousand, and two, ten thousand; now one of the nations routs a thousand
and two, ten thousand.
their rock is not like our Rock" – the authority
which you give us is unlike the authority which you give them; when you give
them supremacy, they behave towards us with brutality, killing, burning, and
our enemies are judges" – You had decreed for us
that a foe may not serve as witness or judge, as is written, "and he
not be his enemy" (Devarim 35)
– he shall testify; "and did not seek his harm" – he shall
judge him – but you appointed over us enemies to be witnesses and judges.
(Sifrei, Haazinu, Pesikta 323)
not Israel been forsaken by its Rock, had not the Rock of Israel wanted Israel
to be enslaved by the nations – and to this end, surrendered
Israel to their hands – had the conflict between the nations and Israel been a
struggle between the rock of the nations and the Rock of Israel, then not
Israel, but the nations, would have been defeated, Israel would not have been
vanquished. The rock of the nations cannot stand up to the Rock of Israel.
(Rabbi Shimshon R. Hirsch on Devarim
and upright is the Lord: the Option of
Correction is one of God's Graces
Good and upright is the Lord.
How is He good? In that He is upright. How is He upright? In that He is good.
They asked wisdom: What is the sinner's
punishment? It said: Evil will pursue the sinners (Proverbs 13:21).
They asked prophecy: What is the sinner's
punishment? It said: The soul which sins shall die.
They asked the Torah: What is the sinner's
punishment? It said: Let him bring a guilt-offering and it will be atoned.
asked the Holy One, blessed be He: What is the sinner's punishment? He said:
Let him repent and it shall be atoned for him, as it is written: The Lord
is good and upright; therefore, He leads sinners on the way, [meaning] that He
shows sinners the way for them to repent
Shimoni Tehilim 25,
from Love and from Fear
said: Great is repentance, for it makes deliberate sins count as accidental
ones, for it is said, Return, O Israel to the Lord your God, for you
have stumbled in sinning (Hosea 14:2). A sin is deliberate, but he calls it a
Did Reish Lakish not say: Great is repentance, for it makes
deliberate sins count as merits, for it is said, And when a wicked man
turns back from his wickedness and does what is just and right, he will live by
virtue of these (Ezekiel
33:19). It is not a problem: Here [-the latter –
refers to repentance] out of love [of God], here [-the former – refers to
repentance] out of fear [of God].
Repentance raises a person up from all of
the low-places of the world, but even so, it is not a stranger to the world.
Rather, it lifts up the world and life with itself. It refines sinful
tendencies. The powerful will, which breaks through all limits and causes sin
is itself transformed into a living force that performs great and lofty works
for the good and for a blessing.
(From Rabbi A.I. Kook ztz"l, Al
The repentance which brings about a
radical transformation of a whole way of life leading to a rebirth of the
personality is repentance of redemption; another type of repentance, unlike
this kind, is directed against a specific sin – it is repentance of expiation.
(Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, On
Repentance, Pinchas H. Peli,
editor, pg. 174)