Parshat Nitzavim & Rosh Hashana Vol.11 No.3

Date of issue: 5-10 Tishrei 5762 -- September 22-27, 2001 

This week’s issue has been sponsored 
by Dr. and Mrs. Selwyn and Ericka Levine 
in memory of 
the victims of last week’s terror.

How to sponsor
This week's featured writers:

Rabbi Joel Grossman
Yair Manas
Ilan Tokayer
Josh Dubin
Rabbi Howard Jachter
-The Minhag of Kapparot



Faith in Difficult Times
by Rabbi Joel Grossman

This Shabbat, as we begin the new year of 5762, we read Parshat Vayelech. One of the important Mitzvot found in this Parsha is the Mitzva of Hakel. In this Mitzva we are commanded to gather together the men, the women, and the small children, and bring them to the Bait Hamikdash. Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser in his Sefer Something To Say quotes the Sfat Emet who explains that by traveling with their little children to the Bait Hamikdash the parents illustrate their profound desire to make sure that their children remain true to the Torah. Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser presents a story to illustrate this point. Rabbi Sevenstein was once visited by a parent who asked for a blessing that his son grow up to be a Talmid Chacham. The rabbi asked the parent, Do you learn yourself? The man lowered his eyes and said, No Rebbe. The rabbi said, If you want your son to become a Talmid Chacham, you must be a living example of sincerity in Torah learning.

Earlier in the Parsha the Torah writes Chizku Viimtzu, be strong and courageous. Moshe then summoned Yehoshua and said to him, be strong and courageous. Rav Moshe Feinstein Zichrono Tzaddik Libracha learns from the fact that Moshe repeated this to Yehoshua after telling the people as a whole that both teachers and students need strength and courage. A teacher must never give up, even when they feel their words are not having an effect on their students. They must still persist and trust that eventually what they are teaching will be heard. Students also need strength. Even when they find it hard to understand what they are being taught, they cannot give up. Rather, they must strive their utmost to master the material. If they put in the effort they will succeed as the Gemara (Megila 6b) says, Yagati Umatzati Taeman. 

Today we are living in a time when we must tell ourselves, as well as our children and students, Chizku Viimtzu after the terrible events of September eleventh. We must be strong and courageous in our commitment to Torah and Mitzvot and our belief in Hashem. Even though there were so many deaths, there were many Nisim as well. If we can be strong and courageous in our feelings toward Hashem and our children and students observe this, they, too, will be strong during this terrible time period in our history. 

If we can learn this important message of not trusting Hashem we will definitely fulfill the words of Hoshea in the beginning of our Haftara, Repent Jewish people until you come close to Hashem.

With these thoughts in mind this Shabbat Shuva will serve its purpose and Hashem will be able to inscribe all of us for a year of health, happiness and Nachat from our families, Amen. 

Hide and Seek
by Yair Manas

In one of his final messages to Bnai Yisrael in Parshat Nitzavim, Moshe prophesized that after he passed away Bnai Yisrael would turn away from Hashem. They would suffer, go into exile, and feel like Hashem abandoned them.

There have been many times throughout history when it appeared as if Hashem has abandoned us. Many tragic expulsions and massacres have taken the lives of many Jews, even of those Jews who felt secure in their societies. Jews contributed to the economies of Spain and Germany, yet they were still persecuted. The fact that they felt secure showed that they had been willing to adopt the gentile way of life.

Assimilation has always been a greater threat to the Jewish nation than oppression has been. Many Jews retained their faith in the ghettos, but today many have abandoned their religion for the good life. Persecutions have always served as tragic reminders that a Jew is considered a Jew wherever he is, even if he no longer considers himself one.

Despite these oppressions, Hashem has never been completely hidden. Had He left us, the Jewish People would have ceased to exist a long time ago. Hashem is still is our Guardian, even though His presence may not be obvious. An obvious example of this point is the Purim story. Even though no supernatural events occurred to save the Jews, the events that took place could only have been engineered by Hashem.

We should hope for the day when Hashem will once again appear openly to us. In order for this to happen, we must perform good deeds, never forget that Hashem is the only God, and never wander from His ways.

by Ilan Tokayer

In Parshat Vayelech, Hashem tells Bnai Yisrael Vaanochi Haster Astir Panai (31:18). Why does the Torah use the double Lashon of Haster Astir? What does Haster Astir mean? I heard a very nice interpretation of this seemingly strange Pasuk from my Madrich and good friend, Mordechai Zeller.

The Baal Shem Tov suggested as follows. There are two types of Hester Panim. The first type is when Hashem is hiding from us, similar to a game of hide and seek, and we are looking for Hashem. We know that He is out there, waiting for us to find Him. This is not what the Torah is referring to in this context. Hashem is talking about a much deeper Hester Panim than that. Vaanochi Haster Astir Panai, I will hide to an extent that the fact that I am hiding itself will be hidden. Hashem will be in such a deep Hester Panim from Bnai Yisrael that they will not even know that they have to look for Hashem.

There is a concept in Chassidut that when Hashem wrote the Torah, he had in mind for different Parshiot to be read at different times for a predetermined reason to give a message to Am Yisrael. Perhaps this Kriya was predetermined to coincide with the tragic events of September 11, 2001. The world is obviously in a state of Hester Panim when something so tragic and terrible happens. The Rambam in Hilchot Teshuva sees the Shofar as a wake up call yelling Uru Yeshenim Mishenatchem, Wake up from your slumber! Perhaps our job as Jews is to see through this state of Haster Astir and look deep down inside ourselves and wake up from our slumbers in this time of Aseret Yemai Teshuva and see what we can do to worship Hashem as better Jews.


A Blast to the Future
by Josh Dubin

With Rosh Hashanah passed and Yom Kippur quickly approaching, we may come to forget one of the primary goals of the Teshuva and repentance of these days: to bring the Mashiach and build the Bait Hamikdash. We must never forget that the ultimate goal is not just to survive the year to come, but to make it a year full of Torah and Mitzvot so that next year will be spent not in Shul, but in the Bait Hamikdash. With that in mind, we must now see how one of the main aspects of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Shofar blasts, would change if blown in the Mikdash.

The Gemara (Rosh Hashanah 26b) says that in the Mikdash on Rosh Hashanah, we blow the Shofar together with 2 Chatzotrot, trumpets. The Gemara asks, however, that one cannot distinguish one sound from many, so how can one be Yotze hearing the Shofar if he cannot distinguish the sound from the accompanying ones? The Gemara answers that the Shofar sound was blown longer so that at the end all one would hear was the Shofar sound.

The Gemara (ibid.) also tells us that on Yom Kippur of the Yovel year, the Shofar was sounded in the Sanhedrin, which was in the Mikdash, freeing all the slaves. Rav Soloveitchik, cited in the Egrot Hagrez, asks why do we not blow the Chatzotrot on Yom Kippur during Yovel also? He answers that on Rosh Hashanah, the Shofar sound is a Tefillah (see Rashi ibid.), and the Chatzotrot, whose Tefillah nature is shown by the fact that we blow them when we go to war, are only blown when their Tefillah accompanies the ????? of the Shofar, which only exists on Rosh Hashanah.

However, if the Chatzotrot sound was not just a trumpet sound but a Tefillah as well, then one might think we need to be able to be able to hear them to be Yotze. Even if you suggest that the Mitzva is a Mitzva to blow (Mitzvat Tekiah), not a Mitzva to hear (Mitzvat Shemiah), you still need to hear the sound to be Yotze the blowing through Shomea Kioneh. There are three possible answers to this question. Assuming that all you need is Shomea Kioneh, then it may be that you need not hear the actual Kol, but rather you just need to know exactly when the Kol was made, to synchronize the Shemiah with the Oneh. We see a similar concept by Rav Zvi Pesach Frank zt"l’s response on the question of hearing the Megila over the phone/microphone. He says that since the Mitzva is to read the Megila, and we are only able to fulfill the Mitzva through Shomea Kioneh, then all you need is a simultaneous reproduction of the Megila reading to synchronize the Shmiah with the Oneh, which the phone/microphone provides. Another answer could be that the Mitzva to hear the Chatzotrot is just to hear them together with the Shofar, which is obviously fulfilled. The third answer could be that the Mitzva of the Chatzotrot is just a Mitzva on the Congregation, not on the person, so every individual need not hear the Chatzotrot sound by itself.

May all of Klal Yisrael have a Gmar Chatimah Tovah, and may we hope that by this time next year we will be practicing these Halachot in the Mikdash.

This article was adapted from a Shiur given by Rabbi Reichman at TABC on September 13, 2001. The three answers presented were offered by the Rabbi Reichman and Josh Aron, this author, and Zevi Goldberg.

Halacha of the Week

It is proper to study the Mishnayot of Masechet Yoma on Yom Kippur. Similarly, it is appropriate to study the Aggadic sections of the eighth chapter of Masechet Yoma that discuss the virtues of Teshuva on Yom Kippur. However, the study of this material does not take precedence over Tefillah. Thus, one should not study Mishnayot Yoma instead of reciting the Tefilot and Selichot with the community (Mishna Berura 619:16).

If you have a response to these question, please contact us at Responses may be published upon agreement of the provider.

Staff at time of publication:
Editors-in-Chief: Josh Dubin, David Gertler
Managing Editors: Yair Manas, Uriel Schechter
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Publication Editor: Ilan Tokayer
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