Netzovim

Netzovim

Let The New Year, With Its Blessings, Start

Another has passed, and everyone from the simple laborer to Torah sage, are trembling in fear and reverence in anticipation of Yom Hadin, the awesome Yom Hazikaron— Rosh Hashana.

“This day is the anniversary of the start of Your handiwork, a remembrance of the first day. For it is a decree Israel, a judgement day for the G-d of Yaakov.

Regarding countries, it is said on this day which is destined for the sword and which for peace, which for hunger and which for abundance; and creatures are recalled on it to remember them for life or death. Who is not recalled on this day? For when the remembrance of everything fashioned comes before You: everyone’s deed and mission, the accomplishments of man’s activity, man’s thoughts and schemes, and the motives behind man’s deeds.

Praiseworthy is the man who does not forget You, the human being who takes strength in You, for those who seek you will never stumble, nor will those who take refuge in You ever be humiliated.”

This stirring section of Rosh Hashana Musaf does not require an explanation or commentary. It is part of the liturgy and nusach of the Rosh Hashana service, instituted by the Tana’im and Amora’im to be said on that day. It would be no less awesome even if it was a passage from a musar sefer, but since it is part of the liturgy for the holiday, it is imbued with a totally different meaning. It implies that if a person makes great efforts to focus on Hashem, on that day and truly strives then to perform the sacred mitzvohs, he will be “Ashrei Ish” on Yom Hadin. A person can achieve this by honoring Shabbos and being ready early for it, since Shabbos is the foundation of our faith and the Torah.

How fortunate we are when Shabbos is immediately after Rosh Hashana. Beginning the new year with the great and awesome resolutions of Yom Hadin has a tremendous impact on a person. Especially so because one may not prepare for Shabbos on erev Shabbos, since it is still Rosh Hashana. Due to the kedushas ha’moed, we enter Shabbos directly from a day of kedusha.

Our sages say that every day of the week between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur atones for the corresponding weekday of the year which just passed.There may have been times when we were lax regarding kedushas haShabbos. There were times when we were tardy in preparing for Shabbos, and other times when we spent too much time engaged in mundane affairs. Once and a while we may have been careless about the laws of Shabbos.

But Shabbos Teshuva, which precedes Yom Kippur, has been given to us in order to rectify all those infractions. If we genuinely resolve that this forthcoming year we will make extra efforts to honor Shabbos, to finish our preparations for Shabbos early, to devote more time to learning and to reviewing hilchos Shabbos, and less time to mundane matters, then our prayers that “may the year and its curses end, and they year of it blessings begin,” will certainly materialize.

There may have been times when we were lax regarding kedushas haShabbos. There were times when we were tardy in preparing for Shabbos, and other times when we spent too much time engaged in mundane affairs. Once and a while we may have been careless about the laws of Shabbos. But Shabbos Teshuva, which precedes Yom Kippur, has been given to us in order to rectify all those infractions. If we genuinely resolve that this forthcoming year we will make extra efforts to honor Shabbos, to finish our preparations for Shabbos early, to devote more time to learning and to reviewing hilchos Shabbos, and less time to mundane matters, then our prayers that “may the year and its curses end, and they year of it blessings begin,” will certainly materialize.

Last week, on parshas Ki Sovo, the Tochechah (rebuke) was read. This was instituted by Ezra Hasofer, who declared that two weeks prior to Rosh Hashana, Bnei Yisroel should read the curses in the Mishneh Torah so that the year and its curses should end.

Our Rishonim discuss why we read Tochecah two weeks before Rosh Hashana, and not on the Shabbos immediately before Rosh Hashana.

Rebbe Tzodok Hacohen of Lublin, in Pri Tzaddik parshas Ki Sovo (os 13) explains: “Shabbos is the essence of all blessings, and all the sanctity of the following week is included in Shabbos, as is implied by: ‘Ve’kidashto mi’kol hazemanim’. Every Shabbos prior to Yom Tov includes the sanctity of the Yom Tov which will occur next week, so the new year will begin with its blessings on the Shabbos prior to Rosh Hashana. Therefore we read the parsha of the curses in the Mishneh Torah on the Shabbos prior to the Shabbos before Rosh Hashana.

Indeed, a special Shabbos awaits us. All of the blessings we wish to acquire for ourselves on Rosh Hashana, depend on this Shabbos which includes the kedusha of Rosh Hashana and the blessing of “tachel shana u’birchoseha.”— Let the new year, with its blessings, begin.