Rosh Hashana Vol.10 No.4
Date of issue: 1-2 Tishrei 5761 -- September 30-October 1, 2000
has been sponsored by
Deborah "soccer mom" Wenger
in memory of her mother,
Chana Hena Bat Shlomo Zalman,
and in honor of the Kol Torah staff.
Can We Survive Without the Shofar?
by Rabbi Yosef Adler
We are all aware of the prominent role that the blowing of the Shofar plays within the Rosh Hashana experience. In trying to formulate the rationale for Malchiot, Zichronot, and Shofarot the Gemara states, Imru Lefanai Malchiot Kidei Shetamlicheinu Aleichem Vitazkireini Akeidat Yitzchak. Ubame? Bishofarot. "Recite Malchiot before Me to proclaim My kingship on this world, so that I will remember Avraham's willingness to sacrifice Yitzchak. All this can be accomplished via the medium of the Shofar." During Shacharit we state, Bashofar Afiteinu, "We will seduce God by sounding the Shofar." We understand that the sound of the Shofar represents wordless prayer unto Hashem. Man, having articulated his thoughts to the best of his ability, realizes that on this Day of Judgment words are inadequate, and he relies on the Shofar to communicate his need to avail himself of Hashem's kindness.
How, then, does a Jew experience Rosh Hashana this year, as it occurs on Shabbat and no Shofar blowing will take place? Isn't the Shofar an integral part of our Davening on Rosh Hashana? How do we relate to our Davening without it? I suggest the following answer: the reason we do not sound the Shofar on Shabbat is based on a Rabbinic decree. The Rabbis feared that, in one's great haste to perform the Mitzva of Shofar, he will carry his Shofar in a public domain and violate the severe prohibition of carrying on Shabbat. In order to spread the word of Hashem's holy Torah, the Rabbis are invested with the authority to override His rules and commandments.
Hashem said, "Sound the Shofar on Rosh Hashana; take your Lulav and Etrog on Sukkot," yet the Rabbis have told us not to do so on Shabbat. This idea, highlighting the role assigned to those who are agents of Hashem, is central to the Rosh Hashana Torah reading. Avraham was commanded directly by Hashem to bring Yitzchak upon the altar as a sacrifice. I would imagine that if one was convinced that Hashem was speaking to him, he would listen. Avraham complied and bound Yitzchak upon the altar. Suddenly, an angel appeared and instructed Avraham not to harm Yitzchak at all. Angels are but emissaries of Hashem, but the angel's direction was followed over Hashem's directive. So too, Am Yisrael follow the instructions of Hashem's emissaries and we do not sound the Shofar on this Yom HaDin.
May our commitment to Torah Sheba'al Peh and the pursuit of Torah under the guidance of our teachers merit us that we which beseech of Hashem, Nizacher Vinakatev Anachnu Vechol Amcha Bait Yisrael Lichayim Tovim Uleshalom, "We should be remembered and written before you, us and all of your nation, the house of Israel, for life, goodness, and peace."
Forgiveness as a Deed
by Rabbi Hershel Solnica
In these few days before Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, we review our actions and consider the real options of Hashem. A thoughtful person should be terrified! Knowing our misdeeds, foibles, and sins, we also realize that we have no mortgage on our continual good health, successful fortune, and wonderful Nachas.
As the Navi says, "Do Teshuva until you reach the understanding of Hashem's will" (Hoshea 2:10). If someone would abuse you, you would want more from them than a simple apology. One would expect a major turnabout in their character and attitude. This, according to Harav Hagaon Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, zt"l, is the basic difference between Kapara and Tahara, forgiveness and purification. Kapara is a simple correction of an error. Tahara is the complete change of character to a positive, more moral attitude (Al Hateshuva, Chapter 1).
This is what education by parents and teachers is all about. Children are inspired by the erudition, enthusiasm, and Yirat Shamayim of their Rabbeim. They must be directed, by example, by their parents. It is almost impossible to inspire a student to pray effectively when his parents use Shul as a medium for mundane, irrelevant, and uncontrollable discussion.
I am shocked to note, as I talk to my wonderful young students at TABC, how few of them go to the Mikva before Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and Hoshana Rabbah. Among my most inspiring moments with my father, zt"l, are my experiences going to the Mikva with him on every Erev Yom Tov. I took my boys, including a handicapped child in a wheelchair, to the Mikva on every Erev Rosh Hashana and Erev Yom Kippur. They did not simply feel the need for Kapara but the imperceptible necessity for Tahara as well.
Atem Nitzavim Hayom Kulchem Lifnei Hashem...Tapchem...Asher Bikerev Machanecha, "You all stand before Hashem today…your children…who are in your camp" (Devarim 29:9-10). Fathers, you have the opportunity to show an incredible example of Teshuva before the Yamim Noraim. I hope our children will be inspired first by you and then by their teachers and Rabbeim. Shana Tova Umetuka.
The Meaning of Shofar
by Meir Dashevsky
The source for the Mitzva of Shofar is the phrase "Yom Teruah" in Bemidbar (29:1). The Rambam states that this Mitzva is a Chok (a Mitzva that we do not understand) because the Torah does not provide a reason for blowing Shofar, but he imparts that there is an allusion in the Torah to the reason for Shofar, which suggests that the Shofar's message is: "Awake, sleepers, from your sleep! Arise, slumberers, from your slumber! Scrutinize your deeds! Repent with contrition! Remember your Creator! Peer into your souls; improve your ways and your deeds..." (Hilchot Teshuva 3:4).
Children are taught that blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashana serves as a reminder to repent and beg forgiveness from Hashem. What is the source of this idea? Where does the Torah allude to this explanation of Shofar?
One place to look is the portion of the Torah read on Rosh Hashana. The reading of the second day is Bereishit chapter 22, which discusses Akeidat Yitzchak. After Avraham was told that he should not sacrifice his son, he sacrificed a ram in place of Yitzchak. Our custom is to use the ram's horn as the Shofar, one of the connections between Rosh Hashana and this Torah reading. Just as Hashem accepted Avraham's sacrifice, so too we hope He will accept our prayers. While we do not have the ability to offer sacrifices anymore, our sincere prayers will be accepted through the Shofar.
A second source of Shofar is in Shemot, where the Torah writes, "The sound of the Shofar grew continually stronger" (19:19). This Pasuk is taken from the Parsha where Bnai Yisrael received the Torah. Therefore, the blowing of the Shofar reminds us of that event and reminds us to return to Hashem as if we have just received the Torah.
Yet another source can be found in Yechezkel, where the Navi writes, "When I bring the sword of war upon the land...He blows the Shofar and warns the people" (33:2-3). In this example, a direct correlation can be found between the Shofar and awakening the people to do Teshuva. Hashem brings war to the land, and the way to save oneself is to hear the wake-up call, the Shofar, to heed that warning, and to take appropriate action.
A fourth source is in Yeshayahu, where the Navi records, "And it will be on that day that a great Shofar will be blownJerusalemto our hope that blowing the Shofar will hasten the coming of Mashiach, and then...they shall prostrate themselves to Hashem on the holy mountain in " (27:13). This points out the connection between Shofar and redemption, and it alludes ., often due to religious or political differences. , but there is another Shofar one can hear if he . We can not afford to fight and squabble amongst ourselves. When all Jews can , the Shofar of Yeshayahu will sound and all . Leshana Tova Techateivu Vitechateimu.
The Power of Prayer
by Dani Gross
The Torah reading on the first day of Rosh Hashana tells of Hashem remembering Sarah and allowing her to give birth to Yitzchak. Bereishit 21:1 states, VaHashem Pakad Et Sara, "Hashem remembered Sarah." Rashi states that this incident is next to the preceding incident, the story of Avimelech, to teach that anyone who prays for someone else regarding a matter that he himself needs is answered before the one he prayed for. This is based on the Pasuk that says, Vayitpalel Avraham El HaElokim, "Avraham prayed to Hashem," and that Hashem remembered Sarah before He healed Avimelech. We learn from here how important prayer can be.
Rav Yosef Grossman related this in a parable of a king and his son, the prince:
The prince and the king were arguing, and finally the king sent his son away from the palace. However, the king felt bad for his son and sent a spy to watch his son. After a year passed, the king relayed a message to the prince that the king would grant one wish to his son. The son asked for a new coat. When the spy told the king of his son's request, the king began to cry and said, "I would have granted my son anything he asked for; he could have asked to be returned to the palace and I would have let him back!"
When we Daven on Rosh Hashana we can ask for anything, but sometimes we do not ask for the most important things. Hopefully this year we can merit to pray for the appropriate things and aspire to lofty spiritual heights.
Halacha of the Week
An adult should not blow the Shofar on Rosh Hashana unless it is in the context of fulfilling the Mitzva of Tekiat Shofar (Rama O.C. 596:1).
Food for Thought
by Dani Gross
1) The month of Elul, which leads up to the Yamim Noraim, is characterized by the Pasuk, Ani Ledodi Vedodi Li, "I (Bnai Yisrael) am for my lover (Hashem), and my lover is for me." These is very different than the Yamim Noraim, as the Yamim Noraim denotes a sense of fear of Hashem. How can one resolve this contradiction?
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