Archives for category: Jewish Calendar

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This week is Parshas Para, the third of what is known as the Arba Parshiyos. I would like to explore the significance as to why we read these Parshiyos and some of the various practices that are associated with them.

The Mishna[1] states that the Shabbos before Rosh Chodesh Adar we read Parshas Shekalim. On the second Shabbos of the month, we read Parshas Zachor. On the third Shabbos, we read the Parsha of Para Aduma. On the fourth Shabbos, which is the shabbos preceding Rosh Chodesh Nissan, we read Parshas HaChodesh. On the fifth Shabbos, we resume reading like usual.

The order of these Parshiyos is significant.

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Machnisei rachamim – do we need Protekzia to reach god?

This Motzei Shabbos,we begin the recitation of Selichos, supplications begin for forgiveness in the advent of the Yomim Noraim. Amongst the many Selichos and piyutim included in the Selichos is the piyut of Machnisei Rachamim. Machnisei Rachamim is a piyut that is said at the end of Selichos, asking the Malachim to please bring our supplications and cries before Hashem.

מכניסי רחמים הכניסו רחמינו לפני בעל הרחמים משמיעי תפלה השמיעו תפלתנו לפני שומע תפלה משמיעי צעקה השמיעו צעקתנו לפני שומע צעקה מכניסי דמעה הכניסו דמעותינו לפני מלך מתרצה בדמעות השתדלו והרבו תחינה ובקשה לפני מלך רם ונש. הזכירו לפניו השמיעו לפניו תורה ומעשים טובים של שוכני עפר יזכור אהבתם ויחיה אותנו בטרם שלא תאבד שארית יעקב כי צאנו של רועה נאמן היה לחרפה. ישראל גוי אחד למשל ולשנינה מהר עננו ופדנו מגזרות קשות והושע ברחמיך הרבים משיח צדקך ועמך

This has not been without controversy and has caused much confusion as to whether or not we should indeed say this piyut.

I would like to explore the history of the controversy and attempt to clarify if it is correct to say this piyut.

Much of this is based on an article in Yeshurun by Rav Shlomo Sprecher Vol #3

As an aside, it is interesting, that there have been many piyutim that we skip in Selichos or which simply do not appear anymore, as the Gedolim felt they were improper. Machnisei Rachamim, of unknown origin, always managed to sneak back into the Machzor. This only deepens the curiosity to understand the nature of this piyut and the history of its controversy.

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The Torah in Parshas Shoftim recounts Moshe Rabbeinu instructing the Jewish people what they should be doing when they get across the border into Eretz Yisrael. Moshe told them that they should appoint Shoftim to judge the people properly as well as Shotrim to enforce the law. Additionally, the Jewish people are given a mitzvah to appoint a Melech.

Sandwiched between the Parsha of the Shofet and the Parsha of the Melech, the Torah describes, once again, the severity and prohibition of idolatry.

The Daas Sofrim explains the connection: Once the Shoftim can eradicate idolatry from Eretz Yisrael, which was populated by idol worshippers, they can then appoint a king who can build up his malchus on a pure slate.

Amongst the prohibitions mentioned regarding Avoda Zara, is that of planting an Asheira tree, which is a tree used for the purpose of Avoda Zara. Likewise, one may not use a tree as a source to construct the Mizbeach.

The Meshech Chochma explains the connections of these two concepts. He explains the idea of Korbanos. A Korban is not something that we are giving to Hashem to give him energy and power. Rather a Korban is intended to help perfect a person to be more complete and to grow to be a better more spiritually aligned individual.

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Today is the 80th Yartzeit of Rav Kook Zt’l. I thought it would be appropriate to share some words of wisdom he shared in his Drasha on Rosh Hashanah in Beis Knesses HaChurva in 1933.

We find that the Tefillah for the Geula is accompanied with the Tefillah of  תקע בשופר גדול לחרותינו or והיה ביום ההוא יתקע בשופר גדול. What is the idea behind the Shofar HaGadol? Why specifically do we daven for the blowing of a big Shofar as opposed to a regular one?

Rav Kook explains that we can understand the Shofar of Mashiach by understanding the main 3 halachos regarding the Shofar of Rosh Hashanah:

  1. The Mitzvah to blow Shofar is on the Shofar of a ram.
  2. If one does not have a rams horn, any other kosher animal horn is kosher.
  3. A horn of an animal used for Avoda Zara or of a non-kosher animal is Passul and you may not make a bracha on it, but if you use it, you are יוצא.

The function of the Shofar of Mashiach is to awaken us and push us to do the ‘רצון ה, thereby bringing the full Geula. This re-awakening comes through the Tekia which will call everyone and cause everyone to gather en-masse to Yerushalayim.

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The Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva 5;2 writes that we should all strive to be like Moshe Rabbeinu. Rav Pam asked, how could the Rambam say this, after the Torah says there will be  no one as great as Moshe? Rav Pam explains that Hashem said on Moshe כי כל ביתו נאמן הוא , we see that even though no one can be as great as Moshe, that is only regarding Nevuah, Middos and wisdom, but to build a Bayis Neman B’Yisrael one has to channel everything he does for Hashem and in that everyone can strive to be like Moshe and we should all be zoche to a Bayis Neman B’Yisrael in the truest sense.

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The Talmud (Megilla 13b) states “When Haman drew lots for the month to carry out the annihilation of the Jewish people it fell in Adar, Haman was very happy with this as this is the month that Moshe Died” the Gemara continues that what Haman didn’t realize is that it was also the month that Moshe was born. The question is what difference does it make now that Moshe was also born in Adar, at the end of the day this is the month that he died?

The Yaaros Dvash explains that although Moshe did indeed die on the 7th of Adar, he is reborn each year on the 7th of Adar to help each and every Jew learn and fulfill the Torah properly, every Jew has Moshe Rabbeinu helping him! It was this zechus of Moshe Rabbeinu that dissolved Haman’s plot and turned the tables. Vnehapoch Hu…….

Yom Kippur is a time of renewal a time to start fresh  a time of teshuva. During the times of the Beis Hamikdosh, this renewal process was done by the Kohen Godol via the avodah of the Day. The Gemara says that Moshe Rabbeinu had the status of a Kohen Godol. We see just like on Yom Kippur we have a renewal, so too on the 7th of Adar, on the day that Moshe Rabbeinu is reborn we have a renewal to learn Torah and fulfill it properly with the aid of Moshe.

The same applies to  Purim, which is a special Eis Rotzon for Teshuva and Tefilla. Hashem should help us that today should be a new time, a time of renewal in Torah and in the zechus of Moshe Rabbeinu  we should be able to fulfill the Torah  properly.

I would like to explore the relationship between the Ushpizin and Sukkos. Please feel free to discuss it at your table and give feedback.
There is a widespread minhag amongst Klal Yisrael to invite the 7 Ushpizin to our sukka. The minhag is that on each day of Sukkos, we invite one of the Ushpizin and with him, we invite the other 6.
The Nusach of how we invite them and the order of the invitations change based on which sector of Klal Yisrael you come from.
The two main traditions of the order are:
  • Avraham; Yitzchak, Yaakov, Moshe , Aharon, Yosef and Dovid. This tradition is what is accepted in many Chasidic courts.
  • Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Yosef, Moshe, Aharon and Dovid. This tradition is found in those few Lithuanian communities that have taken upon themselves this minhag and as well as some Sephardic communities.
This minhag is not found in Shas or Poskim, non withstanding the fact that it is not even mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch or other peirushim. For some reason this minhag became very popular, probably due to its mysterious nature.
As I started thinking about this, the following questions came to mind:
  • Why is this davka on Sukkos? Perhaps they should come on Pesach, when we say Ha Lachma Anya and Eliyahu is there too?
  • Do all the Ushpizin come every night?
  • What happens if we do not set a place for them; Do they still come, even if we invite them?
  • If we do not give food to the poor from the meal, will we get cursed? Will the Ushpizin come again?
  • What is the difference of the order? What happens if one invites in the wrong order?
I hope the following sources can answer these questions. If you have any further ideas or thoughts please share them.

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