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Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin




Special Note One:  On Chag HaSukkos, we spend much time and effort in order to properly perform the Mitzvos of Sukkah and the Four Minim.  Many people may forget that there is another great Mitzvah on Sukkos, which is the Mitzvah to be b’simcha--in a state of happiness.  In fact, Sukkos is known as “Zman Simchasenu--a time of bliss.”


The Sefer Pele Yoetz writes in the name of the Arizal that one who is truly joyful on Sukkos, and does not allow himself to be pained, is assured that he will have a good year and will merit constant joy.  The Pele Yoetz writes that one can attain this level of joy by reflecting upon how fortunate he is to be so different from all other creations in the universe, by having the opportunity to be close to Hashem through the study of Torah and the performance of Mitzvos.


The Rambam at the end of Hilchos Lulav (8:15), explains that the euphoria we should experience on Sukkos is an inner joy which is rooted in the depths of the heart:


“The joy that a person should experience in doing a Mitzvah and in his love of Hashem who so commanded is a great Avodah; and one who does not allow himself to feel this joy [does not follow the Torah’s directive] to be joyful and good of heart…and the only true greatness and honor is to rejoice before Hashem, as Dovid HaMelech did in dancing before the Aron HaKodesh…”


The Simcha we experience on Sukkos is an anomaly to the rest of the world, which equates joy with fun.  Our happiness is “Yismichu B’Malchusicha”--the joy of our soul in its closeness to Hashem and in our ruchniyus--tangibly experiencing a sublime, inspiring, spiritual purpose in life!


Special Note Two:  We present below eight important points (for the eight days of Sukkos through Shemini Atzeres) which relate to properly celebrating the Chag:


  1. The Elef HaMogen (in the Sefer Mateh Ephraim (626:18) writes that **every minute** that one spends in the Sukkah is a separate Mitzvas Asei M’Dioraisa.  (See also Yesod V’Shoresh HoAvoda for a moving discussion as to how much one should treasure his moments in the Sukkah.)


  1. Chazal (Yalkut Shimoni to VaYikrah 23:42) teach that one who fulfills the Mitzvah of Sukkah in Olam HaZeh will be protected by the Sukkah of Hashem in Olam Haba.  Even in this world, the Shem M’Shmuel writes in the name of his father, the Avnei Nezer, that because of the protective power of the Sukkah, one need not recite the entire Krias Shema Al HaMitah when sleeping in the Sukkah, but only the first Parsha of Shema and HaMapil.  [This ruling of the Avnei Nezer is not brought in Shulchan Aruch, but gives us a better appreciation of what we may not necessarily see with our eyes in the Sukkah.]


  1. A boy above the age of five or six is required to eat all those foods in the Sukkah that his father would be required to eat in the Sukkah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim (640:2).


  1.  One should not purchase any of the Four Minim (including the Aravos on Erev Yom Tov) from a child under Bar Mitzvah, as he is not capable of effecting a halachically-valid transaction.


  1. The spine of the Lulav (the shadra), and not the Lulav itself, must be at least sixteen inches, and must be one tefach (four inches) more than the Hadassim and Aravos when tied together (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 650:2).  Many people think that only the Lulav need be taller, but actually it is the spine of the Lulav that must extend so that the Hadassim and Aravos must stop four inches BELOW the highest point of the shadra--which is the point at which the centermost branch last splits.

  1. When one enters the Sukkah to eat a Seudah, he should invite the Ushpizin verbally--for if he does not invite them, they do not come.  The Ushpizin will also not come if money is not set aside for the poor for Sukkos (Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvodah 11:13; see also the Shla HaKadosh, Mesechtas Sukkah).  We note that the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch writes that it is a special Mitzvah to give Tzedaka on Erev Sukkos.


  1. One must be careful to make reminders for himself about making an Eruv Tavshilin tomorrow, and the following Wednesday.  Hakhel’s Eruv Tavshilin Review can be accessed at this link.  This review contains important halachic information about the Eruv Tavshilin.


  1. The Mishna Berura writes that because of the great Kedusha of the Sukkah, one must be especially careful not to engage in forbidden talk, and try not to engage in mundane chatter (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 639, Mishna Berura, Seif Katan 2).  One should look around the Sukkah from time to time and remind himself that he is engulfed in a Mitzvah like no other time during the year!




Special Note 1:  WAIT!! Don’t put away your Machzor/ Viduy Booklet just yet.  If you already have--maybe you can move yourself to bring it back out!  May we suggest that over the next 22 days, beginning today, you “stay in touch” with the Yomim Noraim by reviewing/thinking about a letter a day from the Vidui we became attached to on Yom Kippur.  Today, then, we would briefly contemplate the letter Aleph--Ashamnu, Oness V’Ratzon, Imutz Halev.  Tomorrow, we would take a moment out to think about Beis--Bogadnu, Bitalnu Min HaTorah, Bivli Da’as, Bitui Sefasayim.  Perhaps you can look at different Vidui explanations/supplements to help you with practical advice (see, for example, the back of the Artscroll Machzor, for more detail on each letter).  If you find this helping you to stay connected to Teshuva thoughts, you can continue the 22-letter cycle throughout the Year.  If you take the minimal time and effort for this, you will very likely be in a (much) more elevated position at this time next Year!


Special Note 2:  Over the Yamim Noraim, many of us felt a greater sense of spirituality--closer to Hashem and His Kingship.  We present you with a special way to continue to feel this closeness, this presence, this sense that you are there with the King--throughout the Year.


You may smirk at the following thought, but after having done that, perhaps you can really consider it.  Every day, Baruch Hashem, at different and staggered points in the day, we take care of our bodily functions, and proceed to make an “Asher Yotzar,” in which we thank Hashem for the wonderful Miracle that we have just experienced.  The Bracha of Asher Yotzar is so essential in our life that the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 6:1) actually explains the Bracha in detail--something it does not even do for Birchas HaMazon, which is MiDoraysa (from the Torah)!  May we suggest, in order to continue to tangibly feel Hashem’s presence--indeed, Hashem’s malchus (Kingship)--every day, that you simply **count** the number of times you make this Bracha throughout the day--the number of times that you have benefited from this outstanding wonder which is certainly beyond your capability or even your true understanding.  Yes, Hashem is there for you, in your ordinary, everyday human existence.  Your going out of your way to keep a log will increase your awareness of Hashem’s presence, your appreciation of the Miracle, and will assist your Kavana in this great Bracha.  If you need further help with this appreciation, you can think of someone on dialysis (who does not make an Asher Yotzar), someone who has just gone through surgery (who either is not permitted to use the facilities, or will not be released unless he does), or someone on a medication that causes constipation as a side effect.  It is noteworthy that while in the Bracha of Shehakol and Borei Nefashos we recite “Baruch Ata Hashem” only once, the Bracha of Asher Yotzar goes into much more detail, and accordingly not only begins with “Baruch Ata Hashem,” but actually concludes with a reiterated “Baruch Ata Hashem” as well.  If you take our suggestion and make the simple daily count , you will probably find that by this time next year, you will have recited this sublime and precious Bracha more than 1,000 (and perhaps even 2,000 or more) times over the course of the Year!!  That is an amazing number of very personal, very individualized miracles--Thank You Hashem!!


Special Note 3:  The period that we are now in is a very busy time--and it always has been.  In the Midbar, after Hashem forgave us on Yom Kippur for the sin of the golden calf, we were immediately asked to donate materials to build the Mishkan, and we hurriedly complied, so that just five days later--by the first day of Sukkos--there was already an excess of donated materials for its very expensive requirements.  Later, during this very same period, Shlomo HaMelech dedicated the First Bais HaMikdash.  The pesukim (Melachim I,Chapter 8) describe the great celebration.  Obviously, this is an auspicious time for building holiness--for building on the spirituality fostered over the Yomim Noraim.  Thus, we, too, are building our own Mishkan, our own Bais HaMikdash, our own place for the Shechina, as we ready our Sukkah to dwell in.  We should appreciate the privilege, the honor, the world-unique right and role that we have, and not permit ourselves to fall prey to the Yetzer Hora’s temptations and tests over the next few days of tension, anger, pressure, strain, anxiety, machlokes...and all else that comes with them--and instead, when those moments arise (and they probably will)--recall that you are readying yourself for a very special Chag, and the proper tone and manner of preparation is, and will be, very much a part of the Chag itself!


Special Note 4:  Sukkos is a Chag which should invigorate us with Emunah.  May we suggest that one purchase, or put aside, a Sefer on Emunah to study over every day of the Yom Tov.  Many Mussar seforim have sections on both Emunah and Bitachon.  The Artscroll Publication, With Hearts Full of Faith (based upon the teaching of HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita) may be a wonderful way to begin!




1.      We highly recommended that one not wait until Friday afternoon to take out his Viduy Booklet/Machzor, but instead begin to review some of the details of what one will be confessing so as not to “surprise” himself on Yom Kippur.  When preparing for Yom Kippur, and certainly on Yom Kippur itself, when one recognizes or brings to mind a sin which he has particularly transgressed, he should certainly stop and feel remorse for it.  In the Yom Kippur davening, we will recite, “K’Dalim U’Chrashim Dafaknu Dilasecha.”  This means that we should view ourselves before Hashem as, rachmana l’tzalan, a poor person knocking on someone’s door and asking for funds that he needs to survive.  This is what we are doing as we stand before Hashem.  Fortunately, though, we are blessed with Someone who will answer the door and receive us warmly and with love.


2.      Some particular individual written commitments were shared with us.  One person undertook something we had previously suggested--before making a Bracha, to quickly think about on what he is making the Bracha on, and to whom he is making the Bracha.  Another person said that he is going to be more careful about the fruits and vegetables requiring checking that he eats, romaine lettuce, strawberries, etc., and is “not going to eat them at any catered affair just because they are in front of me.”  A third person stated that he was going to try to answer the one word “Amen” with Kavannah, which means  “what I just heard is true, and I believe it-- thank you.”  Yet another said he was going to commit to be “metzape l’yeshua”--wait for the Geulah daily by thinking about it more carefully in davening.  Finally, one person said that she especially was going to take out her written list of Cholim, and say a particular perek of Tehillim for all on the list at least one time daily.  Hakhel Addition:  Another related suggestion would be a Kabbalah for a person to wait a few moments, or do something else, prior to eating, after his food is ready and waiting for him.  This is a small but important gesture in quashing desire.


3.      The Rabeinu Yonah (Shaarey Teshuva 1:41-43) writes that a key element of Teshuva is that one daven to Hashem and implore mercy for the atonement of all his transgressions and for assistance in repentance, as Yirmiyahu HaNavi prays: “HaShiveyni V’Nashuva (31:18)--return me and I will be returned.”  It is also absolutely imperative for us to daven (on Yom Kippur—and everyday) for all our uneducated brethren who know oh so little of Torah and Judaism.  Is it really possible for us not to shed a tear for them this Yom Kippur?!


4.      The following link http://tinyurl.com/2mcxag provides a selection of Teshuva opportunities which we have published over the years.  Please feel free to distribute to family, friends, in Shul, etc.  The Gedolim always advise that one write down his commitment, and check himself often against what he has written.


5.      The Chayei Odom (Chapter 143) writes that the four organs of speech of a human being (mouth, tongue, lips and teeth) are comparable to the four articles of clothing that the Kohen must wear in order to perform the Avoda in the Bais HaMikdash.  The Chayei Odom continues “…and it is known that if the Bigdei Kehunah are soiled, one cannot do the Avoda.  So, too, if the mouth is soiled [with improper speech] how can we open our mouth to do our Avoda of Tefillah, and to beg pardon for ourselves, as a Kateigor (prosecutor) can not become a Saneigor (defense attorney).” We must make a special effort to do Teshuva over the sins of speech--a Shmiras Halashon Yomi commitment may be a fine start!  Of course, all kaballos, all commitments, should be bli neder, without promising.


6.      The Mishna Berura (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 606, Shaar HaTzion, Seif Katan 8) writes that “One must forgive a person even if they have sinned against you b’maizid (intentionally), and if one does so forgive, so, too, will you be forgiven even for your intentional sins against Heaven.”  We must always remember that Hashem’s Hashgacha Protis over us is based upon “Midah K’Neged Midah”--the attribute of measure for measure, and that, as we all know (but may find hard to apply) “according to the effort is the reward” Avos 5:27.


7.      Chazal (Shabbos 127A) teach that “V’Talmud Torah K’Neged Kulam--the study of Torah is equivalent to them all.”  The Chofetz Chaim teaches that we must be especially certain to do Teshuva for not devoting adequate time and effort in our Torah studies—for it is the ultimate of ALL mitzvos--equivalent to them all! Moreover, the Pele Yoetz writes that the reason that the Brocha of Teshuva  in Shemone Esrei  begins with “Hashevenu Avinu L’Sorosecha”--bring us back to your Torah, is because we cannot properly perform any Teshuva--over any other matter--unless we  first study better what the Torah says or requires of us relating to that matter.  Thus, dedicated improvement in Torah study is a prerequisite to Teshuva!


8.      Finally, on Yom Kippur we should constantly remind ourselves that we are immersing ourselves in purity (“Titharu”).  Just as a person who is physically ill may go to the hospital or take medication to get better, Yom Kippur is an ultimate healing process for the ailments of the soul—which need to be cured for a much, much longer time than the body needs to be healed.  What an Opportunity! What an Occasion!  We should especially express our thanks to Hashem for the unfathomably infinite gift that He has given us!




The Pele Yoetz, in his moving Chapter on Teshuva, writes the following about the Aseres Yemei Teshuva:


“…the difference between the Aseres Yemei Teshuva and the other days of the year regarding Teshuva and Tefilla is like the difference between light and darkness.  One hour of Teshuva and good deeds in these days is better than full days of Teshuva and good deeds on other days(!).  Accordingly, one should be very careful as to how he spends his time in these days, so as not to lose out on this [astounding] opportunity!”


In light of the words of the Pele Yoetz, we provide the following brief notes on Teshuva:


Perhaps the most important part of Teshuva is recognizing that one has sinned.  Most people who are already religious can feel relatively comfortable with themselves--after all, am I not in the select group of people who observe the Torah?!  However, this is not the correct approach at all.


The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh notes that Chazal teach that after 120 years, a person who has read the written Torah will be asked--why did you not study Mishna; a person who studied Mishna will be asked why did you not study Gemara, etc.…  In other words, every one is obligated--as a duty to himself—to take his life to the next step.  This essential purpose, this true goal, of life, can only be undertaken by a person who closely examines his daily routine, his daily habit, his regular performance of Mitzvos.  If one does not feel sorry or remorse over anything he has done, or over actions  he knows he can improve upon, then his words of Vidui on Yom Kippur will be recited in a blank-faced manner.  As HaRav Dessler, Zt’l, (Michtav M’Eliyahu I, p.122) starkly states:


“If a person does not recognize his sins [his inadequacies]--how can he do Teshuva?!”


In broad categories, every one can look at such essentials as:


·        The way he davens

·        The way he speaks

·        The way he eats

·        How often he gets angry

·        The way he studies Torah

·        The way he recites Brachos or the way he feels Hashem in his life throughout the day


One can also look at a typical day  and ask himself whether he does the following every day:

·        Gives Tzedaka

·        Davens for others

·        Has a daily and nightly Torah commitment…


Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses--and the strengths must be improved upon, and the weaknesses must be strengthened.  The key is not to hide your life from yourself, to sit down and make a list of where you are, and where you can go.  As we have previously noted, there is a special Mitzvah to do Teshuva **before** Yom Kippur, as the Pasuk says “Lifnei Hashem Titharu”, **before** Hashem [Yom Kippur], you shall purify yourself.


Some additional short points about Teshuva:


a.  A person, upon recognizing his sin, should immediately attempt to do Teshuva, for delay or deferment indicates a certain lack of concern or caring for the misdeed (Shaarey Teshuva 1:2).


b.  It is interesting to note that of the five additions that we recite in the Shemone Esrei of the Aseres Yemei Teshuva, none of them is found in the Bracha of Teshuva--Hashiveinu Avinu L’Sorosecha” which we recite three times daily.  We may suggest that, while the Aseres Yemei Teshuva is a uniquely auspicious time, Teshuva is really a daily business--every day of the year--and Chazal emphasize this by not adding anything new or special to the Hashiveinu Bracha during this period.  A great Kabala for the New Year may be to do Teshuva every day of the year!


c.  The winners are those who are still there at the end.  As we near Yom Kippur, we must not tire of our responsibility, and continue to move ourselves, in the proper direction.  We must truly appreciate the golden opportunity we have--an opportunity that is free, that defies logic, that defies world attitude--and that brings us eternity--so that we may bask in Teshuva’s pristine, wonderful light!




In a recent bulletin, we noted how the Navi describes the parting between Dovid and Yehonasan, and a lesson to be learned therefrom.  There is yet another essential lesson to be gleaned from the way they parted.  The Pasuk teaches that they both cried--“Ad Dovid Higdil--until Dovid cried more.”  In other words, Dovid (who was going to be the new king instead of Yehonasan) cried even more than Yehonasan himself over the situation!  When Yehonasan saw how great Dovid’s feelings were for another person, he told Dovid “Lech L’Shalom…--go in peace.”  We may suggest that from this incident of superlative caring  that Yehonasan recognized Dovid’s greatness and deservedness, and told Dovid that there was nothing further to be discussed--Dovid was clearly deserving of the kingship.


Our demonstration of love for another is by no means limited to royal situations.  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, writes how he strongly disagrees with a text of a wedding or Bar Mitzvah invitation which reads “Nashiv Lachem Kigmulchem HaTov--if you come to our Simcha, we hope to come to yours.”  Such a statement, HaRav Friedlander states, is out-of-line with the Torah concept of brotherhood and love.  The Torah teaches that “his Simcha” is not only “his Simcha,” and “your Simcha” is not “your Simcha,” but all Simchos are one--they are all “ours.”


Chazal’s suggestions on the attached link can take us far in the direction of the achdus that we need, the support that we can give to each other, and the oneness that Hashem wants to mark us as a people (“Goi Echad B’Aretz,” “K’Ish Echad B’Lev Echad”…).


Perhaps the most notorious mida ra’ah, the character trait which is most harmful, most dangerous, to attaining proper appreciation of, and oneness with, others, is the middah of kinah, or jealousy.  HaRav Doniel of Kelm (its last Rosh Yeshiva, who was killed Al Kiddush Hashem, H’YD), explained that if a person is born with wings, he would be considered a “ba’al mum” (defective)--even though wings are wonderful tools for birds.  Similarly, if a person received something that his friend was really supposed to get, or if he was jealous of what his friend has, he would be a ba’al mum--defective, because Hashem has determined that he should not have it, and that he does not need it.


The Chofetz Chaim once overheard R’ Yisroel Salanter repeating the following adage for an entire night:  “Rebbe Elazar HaKapor Omer HaKinah…--Rabbi Elazar HaKapor said jealousy, desire and honor take a person out of this world” (Avos 4:28).  Jealousy takes a person out of the world because he is living in a world that he is not supposed to be living in.  On the other hand, the midos which oppose it (once again, see the link for details), increase a person’s longevity--for they put a person in a world full of the air that he is supposed to be breathing.


Ultimately, the decision is up to whether we enjoy our world or live--improperly--in someone else’s!




We received very favorable responses to the bulletin which described various actions and reactions we could have to various events throughout the day.  The bulletin brought one reader to recall a note we had published in the past, from a resident of Atlanta, Georgia relating to what he did every time he entered his automobile.


Six Constant Mitzvos in the Car.  We received correspondence as to how someone in Atlanta, Georgia is mekayem the Six Constant Mitzvos.  Each time he enters his car he:  1) looks up to the One and Only Hashem; 2) looks down to demonstrate that Hashem created the world and its fullness (ma’aseh bereshis) and continuously supervises it (yetzias Mitzrayim); 3) looks to the right and thinks of his love for Hashem; 4) looks to the left and thinks of his fear of Hashem; 5) looks through the rearview mirror in back of him to demonstrate that there is no other force “in back of” Hashem; 6) looks in the front of him and commits not to look at things he need not, or should not, be looking at.

            What a beautiful way to start your drive!


For more on the Six Constant Mitzvos, please see Hakhel Community Awareness Bulletin Volume II, Number 2, Teves/Shevat 5762, page 6, Item 31--available here.


While the above may be overly advanced for many of us, there are certainly a number of issues in the car that one could consciously (and perhaps easily) improve upon while in his vehicle.  As one enters, and as he waits at red lights (or perhaps in some traffic), he should recognize that the time spent in the car is a perfect place to practice the middos of patience, of not getting angry, not uttering negative words, not looking at the wrong things, not **being jealous** of the next person’s car or the stuff inside, and as a reminder that one should always follow the rules--because you never know when you will be called to task for a misdeed--and what the punishment will be.

Additionally, one can practice love and kindness--not cutting people off, and, quite to the contrary, letting people in, and even giving people a ride when the situation warrants it.  Finally, one can learn a lot about himself while waiting at a light with no one else in the car--what are his habits, where does his mind wander to?  Will he turn on the radio just to have company?  Hashem has provided us with a valuable tool, in the automobile.  To some of us it is only for a few moments a day, to others up to a few hours a day--in all events, it is a potential treasure house of improvement in many, many areas.

One can really use the car to get somewhere--in more ways than one!


Chazal (VaYikra Rabba 27:2) teach that Ruach HaKodesh exclaims:  “Who preceded me, that I need to repay him?  Who praised me--before I gave him a neshama?  Who performed a Bris Mila--before I gave him a male child?  Who made Tzitzis--before I gave him a Tallis?  Who put up a Mezuzah--before I gave him a house to live in?  Who gave Tzedaka before I gave him money? ...  Nevertheless, although everything is mine, and everything comes from me, I will reward everyone as if they were giving of their own…


At this time of year, it is especially essential that we appreciate the magnanimity of HaKadosh Baruch Hu.  As Dovid HaMelech writes, “V’Gilu Birada--and rejoice with trepidation.”  How powerful HaKadosh Baruch Hu is, how omnipotent, how beyond our understanding--and yet how close He wants us to come to Him!


Rosh Hashanah, and the days leading up to it, is a time where we must experience both joy and trepidation.  We rejoice in HaKadosh Baruch Hu’s Kingship and in our royal position in this world, and we tremble over our responsibility to both ourselves and to this very same world.


With this in mind, we present below the essential words of the Sefer HaChinuch teaching his son both about Rosh Hashanah, and about the meaning of the blowing of the Shofar.  The following is excerpted from the masterful translation of the Sefer HaChinuch by Rabbi Charles Wengrov (Feldheim Publishers).


First, with respect to Rosh Hashanah (Mitzvah 311):


“… on this day all human beings in the world are judged for their deeds.  Chazal said by way of imagery--to make it clear that His providential regard extends over the activity of every single individual, and not over the species in a general way--that all human beings pass before Him like sheep in single file--in other words, one by one, and not mingled together.


“Well, at the root of the precept of this holy season lies the theme that it is of God’s kindnesses toward His human beings to recall them and regard their deeds one day in every single year, so that the iniquities should not become a great many, and there should be room for atonement.  Abundant in His kindness (Exodus 32:6), He tips [the scales of justice] toward loving-kindness, and if they [the sins] are few, He pardons and clears them away.  And if there are wrong deeds among them that require cleansing, He exacts payment for them bit by bit, in keeping with what Chazal taught (Avoda Zara 4A):  ‘From his friend, a man will collect his debt bit by bit.’  But if He would not call the sins to account for a long time, then they [the sins] would become so very many, until the world would almost incur destruction, Heaven forbid.


“Consequently, this distinguished day ensures the endurance of the world.  It is therefore fitting to make it a festival day that it should be in the list of the precious holy times of the year.  However, since it is the ordained time for everyone alive to be judged, it is proper to behave then with reverent fear and awe, more than on all other holy times of the year.  This is the reason for the theme of the ‘memorial of the shofar—sound’ (Leviticus 23:24) mentioned with it:  for the t’ru’ah (shofar--sound) is a broken call, to intimate that everyone should break the force of his evil inclination and have remorse for his bad deeds.”


As the Sefer HaChinuch continues his instructions to his son with respect to the Mitzvah of Shofar (Mitzvah 405):


“At the root of the precept lies the reason that since man is a creature of physical matter, he is not aroused to things except by something stirring, in the way that people at the time of battle will sound horns and even shriek, in order to be well aroused to war.  Then so, too, on the day of Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the year, which is the day determined of old for all those who came into the world to be judged on it...  For this reason everyone needs to arouse his nature to entreat mercy for his sins from the Master of mercies; for Hashem is gracious and compassionate, forgives iniquity, wrongdoing and sin, and absolves those who turn back to Him with all their heart.  Now, the sound of the shofar greatly stirs the heart of all who hear it, and all the more certainly the sound of the t’ruah, which means the broken (quavering) peal.


“Apart from the arousal that is inherent in it, there is a reminder for man to break the impulse of his heart that is evil with the cravings and sinful matters of the world, as he hears the broken (quavering) sounds.  For every person, according to what he sees with his eyes and hears with his ears, will prepare his heart…This is why R. Yehudah said:  ‘On Rosh Hashanah, a shofar [horn] from male animals is to be blown’--in other words, the bent (curved) horn of rams, so that a man should remember when he sees it that he is to bend his heart in subservience to Heaven...”


It is clear from the Sefer HaChinuch that it is our mission at this time of year to experience feelings, true feelings.  Feelings of love, feelings of fear, feelings of awe, feelings of reconciliation, and feelings of happiness.  We must take a few moments to close our eyes and come to ourselves, perhaps with a few tears to show for it.  It is interesting to note that there may be both tears of sadness and tears of joy, but they are both tears--for they both represent what lies within us being brought forth.


Over the next several days let us properly prepare for Hashem’s Kingship over the world, by first experiencing kingship over ourselves!

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