Monday, September 21, 2009

New Beginnings 5770

My Mashpiah told me a story over Rosh Hashanah that really fused together a string of Torah concepts that I had been trying to connect.

Once, as the holy rabbi, Reb Aharon of Karlin (one of the great disciples of the Maggid of Mezritch), was about to recite [the prayer beginning with the word] המלךhe fainted. Later, when he was asked what had happened, he replied that he had been meditating on the words in the Talmud [which were spoken by Vespasian, but which Reb Aharon of Karlin understood metaphorically as spoken by G-d]: “If I am the King, why did you not present yourself before me until now?” Now, what answer could we possibly give?

The week before Rosh Hashanah I had been learning three different dvar torahs/maamarim. One from my Rebbe, HaRav Yosef Lebovitz Shlit'a of Nikolsburg, another from the Sfas Emes ZT"L, and a third from the Pittsburgher Rebbe Shlit'a.

In Elul we proclaim that the King is in the field! We blow the Shofar from Rosh Chodesh Elul on to remind us that we must do Teshuva as Rosh Hashanah is on the horizon. In Elul we recite extra Tehillim, ask our fellow Jew for forgiveness, and try to perform mitzvos while strengthening the ones we perform routinely. The Chassidus from each Rebbe focuses on how Shabbos is a time for Teshuvah just as much as Elul, and the First 10 days of Tishre. I only speak for myself when I say that during Elul it is difficult to remember the lack of kavana in Adar, the wrong bracha in Kislev, and whatever else I do wrong throughout the year. Shabbos is the greatest time for teshuvah and we see this from Shabbos Rosh Hashanah itself which wont occur together again for another 11 years.

On Shabbos R.H. we do not blow the shofar and it is considered Muksa (Prohibited to use on Shabbos). When Shabbos coincides with Yom Tovim like Sukkos the symbols of that holiday are Muksa because Shabbos is a greater symbol. This is not the case with the Shofar as it is forbidden because one might be unsure how to properly blow the Shofar and carry it (an activity forbidden on Shabbos) to a Rabbi's house to learn how to blow it. There is a deeper reason that is revealed by the Chassidic Rebbes who quote the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah that the purpose of the Shofar is to call the King of Kings HaKodesh Baruch Hu from the Throne of Din (Judgement) to the Throne of Rachamim (Mercy). On Shabbos Hashem is already on the throne of Mercy and this means that the effort put into calling Hashem from throne to throne can be used to beg for his forgiveness.

It wasnt until I heard this story of the Holy Rebbe of Karlin that everything connected and really put Teshuvah in perspective. We wait the whole year till Elul and spent 30 days contemplating Teshuvah and then use all our energy on Rosh Hashanah to beg Hashem for forgiveness for our sins. Hashem is asking us why have you not presented yourself until now? Why did you wait until Elul and Rosh Hashanah when you had every Shabbos to come to me? If we utilized every Shabbos to do teshuvah on a smaller scale we wouldnt have to take such a risk of a one time teshuvah deal on Rosh Hashanah.

We should all be blessed with a year full of revealed blessings that will help us build a life of Torah and Mitzvos and inspire the Yidden around us to do the same. We should merit to see Moshiach immediately and bring this Galus to an END!

Another thought is how we should be very thankful for America. Never in history have Jews had such freedom to follow Torah. We have more religious freedom the even Eretz Yisroel! When else in history could Jews parade down the street with a Torah and have the government block off the streets and have their police making sure everything goes smoothly? We must also NEVER forget Yerushalyaim and yearn for its return to her former glory with the Bais Hamikdash at the center. Still we must realize that Hashem gave our weak generation America so we could easily perform his mitzvos.

iy"H I plan to write more often especially once my blog moves over to my website at which I hope everyone who looks here goes to. My art is for sale and you can email me at michael mordechai at gmail dot com for pricing and info.

Shana Tova U'Mesuka

Kisva V'Chasima Tova

A Git Gebentched Yoor