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25 Elul 5768 - September 25, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Opinion & Comment
Talelei Oros: A Selection Of Thoughts On Tekias Shofar

By Rav Yissochor Dov Rubin zt"l

Before Shofar Blowing

"For Hashem is sublime [and] fearsome, a great King over the entire world" (Tehillim 47:3).

There are two ways to attain fear of Heaven. Dwelling on the fact that "Hashem is sublime" leads a person to fear Hashem because it is human nature to fear that which is superior to oneself.

The second way is through the knowledge that Hashem is "a great King over the entire world." He supervises everything, from major events to the smallest detail and judges every person according to his deeds. This knowledge can lead a person to fear Hashem.

This idea is similar to that expressed by the Rema at the beginning of Shulchan Oruch (Orach Chaim, siman 1). "When a person takes to heart that the great King, Hakodosh Boruch Hu, whose glory fills the world, is standing over him and seeing what he does . . . fear will immediately enter him."

(Reishis Chochmah, Shaar Hayirah, perek 3)

Who has Sanctified us with His Mitzvos

"Why do they blow tekiah and teru'oh when they're sitting and blow tekiah and teru'oh again when they're standing? To confuse Satan" (Rosh Hashanah 16).

Tosafos write (Kedai), "The Oruch explains according to the Yerushalmi . . .When [Satan] hears the sound of the shofar the first time he is afraid yet unafraid. When he hears it the second time he says, `This is certainly the shofar-sound of the great shofar being blown' [heralding Klal Yisroel's redemption and the disappearance of evil]."

Why does Satan only think it is the sound of Hakodosh Boruch Hu's shofar the second time?

The wording of the brochoh that we make before fulfilling the mitzvah can provide an explanation. We say, "who has sanctified us with his mitzvos," referring to the mitzvos as, "His mitzvos," i.e. the mitzvos that Hakodosh Boruch Hu Himself fulfills, as it were. When bnei Yisroel blow the shofar once, Hakodosh Boruch Hu also blows it but Satan is not afraid because he knows that these are the obligatory tekios. When Yisroel blow a second time however and the shofar is blown in Heaven as well, Satan thinks that time it must be the sound of the great shofar heralding the redemption because the mandatory tekios have already been blown.

(The Imrei Emes of Ger, HaRav Avraham Mordechai Alter zt'l)

Happy are the People who Know how to Sound Teru'oh

The gematria of the word yod'ei (who know) is one hundred (yud — 10; vav — 6; dalet — 4; ayin — 70; yud — 10). This alludes to the hundred sounds that we blow with the shofar on Rosh Hashanah.

(Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, zt'l)

Happy are the People who Know how to Sound Teru'oh; Hashem, they Make their Way by the Illumination of Your Countenance

A parable will explain the idea underlying this posuk. One of the king's ministers was about to stand trial on very serious charges. The king wanted to see him acquitted because he knew that this minister loved him wholeheartedly. The problem was that it was very hard to find any grounds for finding him innocent.

The king therefore ordered that the trial be held on a particular day, on which he himself paid a visit to the city where minister lived. All the townspeople came out to receive the king joyfully, among them the minister, who forgot all about his personal worries in his joy at meeting the king. Everybody thus witnessed how much he loved the king and this merit enabled him to emerge from his trial with an acquittal.

Similarly,Hakodosh Boruch Hu fixes our trial for the day that He is crowned as King, which is a festive occasion. Though it is also the day we stand trial and we worry about the outcome we banish sadness from our hearts and rejoice in Hakodosh Boruch Hu's celebration. This is the great merit that enables us to receive a verdict of innocence.

This is of course conditional on our joy on Rosh Hashanah being genuine, not tinged with sadness, while at the same time being fully aware of the awe that our trial inspires. Unless we fully recognize the implications of the judgment that we undergo, our joy indicates no special virtue.

We therefore laud ourselves with the words of the posuk. "Happy are the People who Know how to sound teru'oh," i.e. who recognize the awe that their judgment inspires yet at the same time, "Hashem, they make their way in the illumination of Your Countenance," i.e. they proceed joyfully in the radiance of Your Presence.

This is what Ezra meant when he exhorted the people, "Do not be downcast for the joy of Hashem is your stronghold (Nechemia 8:10). Your joy in Hashem's glory is your strength and the source of your merit.

(The Netziv of Volozhin, Ha'amek Davar)

Happy are the People who Know how to Sound Teru'oh; Hashem, they Make their Way in the Illumination of Your Countenance

A man makes his way across a narrow bridge; on both sides lies a deep abyss. If it's dark he needs a candle to light his way and must make sure that the wind doesn't extinguish it. Then he'll be able to walk across confidently. If he isn't careful and the candle goes out he's liable to fall and hurt himself badly.

When he falls, his limbs debate which of them is responsible for the accident. Some say the legs are to blame for losing their footing and causing all the other limbs to fall but that certainly isn't correct. The brain in his head is to blame, for not having taken enough care of the candle, the loss of whose light brought on the whole thing.

It is the same with anything untoward that happens to a person in the course of the year. It's a mistake to try to determine what was unlucky about this or that day. Everything depends on the head, in other words, Rosh Hashanah, when the books of life and death lie open and everybody in the world passes before Hakodosh Boruch Hu in judgment. If a person rouses himself from the slumber of worldly vanities and kindles a light of Torah and mitzvos within his soul, this light will illuminate all his days for him.

This is the meaning of the posuk, "Happy are the people who know how to sound teru'oh," — who know how to rouse themselves when they hear the shofar.

"Hashem, they make their way in the illumination of Your Countenance" — they go through the entire year confidently, their path illuminated by the light of the Countenance of the Living King and they merit good lives.

(Maharsha"m Hacohen of Brezhan, Techeiles Mordechai)

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