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FRUMToronto Articles Thoughts for the Week

Inspirational words of Torah from Gedolei Yisroel.

Blog Image: Hakhel.jpg
Both Kosher Signs
Rabbi Eliyahu Roman, Shlita, recalled a remarkable and penetrating thought that he had heard from HaRav Shneuer Kotler, Z’tl.  Reb Shneuer brought the teaching of the Arizal regarding the 40-day period between Rosh Chodesh Elul and Yom Kippur.  The Arizal compares this 40-day period to the 40-day period in which a new embryo is formed, for during this time one must recreate himself, one must form himself anew.  Reb Shneuer added that just as each day of the 40 day period is absolutely essential to the embryo’s growth and development, so is each day of the 40-day period until Yom Kippur a vital link in our rebuilding.  Imagine, says Reb Shneuer, if the embryo would take a day off during this crucial period--what havoc it would wreak on the whole system--so, too, the Arizal teaches us, that we must view a day without plan, without goals, without development, without change during this period in the very same light!  Something to remember--every single day during this very special period.

Hakhel Note:  The Sefer Mateh Ephraim, the classic Halachic work on the laws of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkos, refers to the days of Elul as “Yomim Kedoshim”--Days of Holiness.  Let us picture ourselves developing this holy period, and not lose the precious daily opportunities we have to ensure our complete and optimum development.

Special Note Two:  There is a stunning lesson provided for each and every one of us by Rashi in last week’s Parsha.  The Parsha teaches us that before Bnai Yisroel were to go to war, the Kohen Moshuach Milchama was to teach them that it was a Mitzvah not to be scared of the enemy, and to provide words of encouragement.  He would begin his address to the soldiers with the words “Shema Yisroel Atem Kereivim Hayom...--Hear, O’ Yisroel, you are coming close to battle...let your heart not be faint, do not be afraid (Devorim 20:3).”  Rashi (ibid.) brings the words of Chazal:  The reason the Kohen begins his words with Shema Yisroel is to tell the warriors that even if they had only the zechus of Krias Shema, they would be worthy of being redeemed.  The war itself--life and death for the masses, as well as the security of all the people back home--could be decided by the proper recitation of Shema alone!  What a lesson for us at this time of year--life for the individual, life for the people could be gained by properly reciting Krias Shema!!  Let us take a moment before reciting the Shema to reflect upon the magnitude of the event--Kabalas Ohl Malchus Shomayim, Ahavas Hashem, the many Mitzvos mentioned in Shema, and at least try to say the words with the proper pronunciation and with the understanding of each word.  If you do so, you can not only plainly emerge victorious in your own battle--you can literally also do your part in winning the whole war!

Special Note Three:  In our quest to improve our focus on Shemone Esrei, and to better understand where the Anshei Kenesses HaGedolah have placed certain words and why, we have thus far focused on “Hashem Elokainu” and “Rachamim” (did you find the bracha in which Rachamim is requested not once, but numerous times?).  The next word we suggest to focus on is an attribute of Hashem that we truly need in large quantities--”Chesed”--Hashem’s kindness.  You may find it interesting to note how and when we request it, and its relationship to Rachamim in the Shemone Esrei’s brachos.  In all events--be sure to have Kavana when asking that Hashem grace us with his Chesed--even if we may not deserve it!

Special Note Four:  It is interesting to note that the archetypal example of something that is unkosher is the chazir, the pig.  This is so even though, unlike many animals which have no sign of Kashrus, the pig at least has one of the two.  Doesn’t it at least get a 50, instead of a zero--besides all of the negativity and loathsomeness associated with it?  Chazal suggest that the fact it is half-way there turns it into a fraud, a trickster, a deceitful animal, as it displays its “kosher sign,” and hides the truth about itself to the world.  We can perhaps apply the lesson from this one-signed animal in our daily lives.  We are each built of the Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim we perform in this world.  These deeds can be placed into two basic categories--Bain Odom LaMakom and Bain Odom LeChaveiro.  We must be careful to remember that we are to have both of these “kosher” signs, and not display one of them, without really possessing the other.  It is for this reason that we must be careful at this time of year not to choose only one of the two categories at the expense of the other--because together they make us into a complete being.  As we work on improving our Tefillah, our personal relationship with, and understanding of, Hashem, we must also be careful to improve our relationships with people.  The Gedolim have asked that we focus on improving the way we speak to others, eliminating the thoughtless or hasty sharp edges of Ona’as Devorim, and replacing them with thoughtful words of concern, compliment and caring.  The difference could very well be life-giving to the person to whom they are addressed and even to his family--and, ultimately, life-giving to you and yours as well.  With the newly-published sefer from the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation on Ona’as Devorim--Positive Word Power, one should bli neder pledge now to study its daily lessons in the coming year.  Until then, one should try his utmost on his own to use that positive, life-giving language that he is so capable of.  How many smiles and good feelings can you generate today?

Hakhel MIS

Posted 8/24/2009 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Thoughts for the Week | Comments (0)

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