September, 2009 Archives

30
Sep

The Music of Halacha: The Focus of Hallel Part Three

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Music of Halacha

The Talmud teaches that there is actually a better Hallel than our Hallel! The title of this other Psalm of Hallel is Hallel Hagadol – The Great Hallel. Why is it considered the Great Hallel? Rabbi Yochanan explains that because the Psalm develops from one great idea to another and as it reaches its peak it praises God “Who provides bread for all flesh”. We praise God for His unlimited strength, for his role in history, for His great miracles, and for His awesomeness, and yet we consider His attention to each individual as the quality most deserving of praise. Rabbi Joshua ben Levi explains the title of The Great Hallel as based on its 26 verses, which correspond to the 26 generations of humanity before God gave the Torah – when we were granted the ability to earn existence – when the world existed entirely on God’s abundant mercy. The Maharal explains that it is not coincidental that the numerical value of God’s Ineffable Name – which represents His Unlimited Mercy – is 26. When do we sing Hallel Hagadol – The Great Hallel? The Talmud tells a story of Rabbi Tarfon: There had been a long drought in Lod and the community fasted every Monday and Thursday pleading for Divine Mercy. One day they fasted and it began to rain before noon. Rabbi Tarfon instructed his community to “eat, drink and celebrate a holiday!” Everyone went to celebrate, and towards evening they sang The Great Hallel. The Rashba , alone among all the Rishonim – early Halachic authorities – rules that Hallel Hagadol should always be recited in response to such a miracle. However most of the other Rishonim rule that we recite The Great Hallel only if the miracle occurred on the day we were fasting! We do not recite Hallel Hagadol if we fasted for rain on Monday and it only began to rain on Tuesday. We only recite Hallel Hagadol if you experience that moment in which your prayers are answered. We do not recite the Hallel if the positive response to our prayers is not immediate. We sing Hallel Hagadol when we immediately experience the power of our prayers with their direct cause and effect. These authorities hold that Hallel should be sung in a moment of heightened experience of God’s care, attention and love. Application: • Practice singing Hallel, without a blessing, when you experience an immediate response to a prayer so that you begin to associate it with that feeling. The Music of Halacha: The Focus of Hallel Part One The Music of Halacha: The Forms of Hallel Part One & Part Two Author Info: 

 Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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30
Sep

The Music of Halacha: The Focus of Hallel Part Two

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Music of Halacha

Hallel as Sanctification

Rabbi Daniel HaBavli derives the Biblical obligation to sing Hallel from a different verse: “You shall not profane My holy Name, and I shall be sanctified amongst the Jewish people. I am God Who sanctifies you.” (Vayikra 22:32) The prohibition against profaning God’s Name is that we shall not allow a vacuum to exist around God’s Name. If we do not sanctify God’s Name we allow a vacuum to develop. We create a Chilul – a vacuum – whenever we do not grow. The only way not to profane God’s Name is to sanctify it. Why does the verse add, “I shall be sanctified”? This is teaching a special Mitzvah to sanctify God’s Name. There is no greater way to sanctify God’s Name than with the Hallel. This is the Biblical source of the commandment to sing Hallel.

“Holy, Holy, Holy, God, Master of Hosts, whose Glory fills the earth.” The Targum of Yonatan ben Uziel explains the three expressions of Holy as, “Holy in the highest heavens the abode of His Presence, Holy on the earth the product of God’s strength, and Holy forever and ever.”

The Maharal points out that we find all three levels of sanctity in the Hallel:

“May the Name of God be blessed from now and forever,” corresponds to the third Holy: “Holy forever and ever.”

“From the rising of the sun until its setting God’s Name is praised,” corresponds to the second Holy: “Holy on the earth the product of God’s strength.”

“God is exalted above all the nations, His Glory is on the heavens, “ corresponds to the first Holy: ““Holy in the highest heavens the abode of His Presence.”

The Maharal continues by pointing out that these three levels of holiness are repeated throughout the Hallel. The Hallel is constantly referring to one level of Holiness or another.

The Zohar Harakia also teaches that the obligation to say Hallel is Biblical. He bases this on the verse, “In the fourth year of a vineyard or tree, the fruit of the tree shall be holy Hilulim” (Vayikra 19:24) – Hilulim is the plural of Hallel. He teaches that you should say Hallel when your tree produces fruit in its fourth year and that will make it holy. Hallel is the process of taking what you have and sanctifying it.

The Jerusalem Talmud derives from the word “Hilulim” that you should make your fruit holy by singing Hallel just as you sing when you make an offering in the Temple. Sing Hallel when you eat a fruit and sanctify what you are about to eat. We do this by making a blessing. The Jerusalem Talmud understands a blessing as a miniature Hallel.

“The servants of God shall praise God, praise the Name of God.” We are praising God for two reasons: The first reason is that now we are no longer the servants of Pharaoh but the servants of God. Whenever you praise God for a specific reason you should also praise God’s Name because God is God. Don’t limit yourself by the immediate reason leading you to sing Hallel: The immediate thing you are celebrating, whether a fruit or a miracle, should be a trigger to praise God because God is God. If I take something good that happened to me as a trigger to praise God, I am sanctifying the fruit or the experience that triggered the praise.

You are taking your gifts and sanctifying them. You are changing your existence. You are going from earth to heaven and then to eternal existence: The three levels of Holy.

It is interesting to note that we derive the power of a blessing from a verse in the Hallel: “The heavens belong to God and the earth is given to man.” When do we make the earth ours? When we make a blessing.

The Talmud teaches that Israel sang the Hallel as they brought their Paschal Offering. How did they know that they should do that? The Talmud answers with a question: “Can you imagine a Jew bringing a Paschal Offering and not singing the Hallel? Can you imagine a Jew shaking a Lulav and not singing Hallel?” The joy of taking a Lulav naturally leads us to sing Hallel!

The Music of Halacha: The Focus of Hallel Part One

The Music of Halacha: The Forms of Hallel Part One & Part Two

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Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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23
Sep

Reb Shlomo Torah Presented by Rav Moshe Stepansky

by admin in Spiritual Growth

“Moshe Rabbenu is the opener of all gates. But Aharon haKohen brings us inside. Succos we live Inside. Simchath Torah we can go out into the world again – after being Inside we can go anywhere in the world, because we shall always remain Inside.”

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21
Sep

Psalm 27: For What Do We Thirst?

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Prayer

“In Your behalf, my heart has said, ‘Seek My Presence’, Your Presence, God, do I seek.” (Verse 8)

“My soul thirsts for the Lord, for the Living Power, when shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:3) For what do you thirst? I do not thirst for food, or drink. I thirst to see Your Presence. (Midrash Tehillim 42:2)

This is our chance to focus on our spiritual lives and realize that what we most desire is to seek God’s Presence, which is so accessible during these days.

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Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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17
Sep

Rabbi David Gotllieb: The Power & Passion of Shabbat

by admin in Spiritual Growth

The unique feature of Rosh Hashanah this year is, of course, that we only

blow the shofaron the second day of Yom Tov. On Shabbos, however,

*Chazal *(Rosh

Hashanah 29b) ruled that we must refrain from this important mitzvah because

we are afraid “*shema ya’avirenu daled amos b’reshus ha-rabbim*” – lest

someone carry the shofar in the public domain and thereby violate the

Shabbos. This phenomenon occurs every few years and, in fact, just three

years ago the first day of Rosh Hashanah also fell out on Shabbos.

HaRav Yaakov Ettlinger (*Minchas Ani*,pp. 482 – 486), one of the giants of

19th century German Jewry, has a remarkable essay on this phenomenon where

he points out a striking historical pattern.

R. Ettlinger notes that, according to his calculation, some of the worst

tragedies in Jewish history occurred during years in which Rosh Hashanah

fell out on Shabbos. He maintains, for example, that the destruction of both

the first and second *Beis HaMikdash* took place in such years.

On the other hand, he also determines that some of the greatest events in

our history – such as being forgiven for the sin of the golden calf,

inaugurating the *Mishkan*,and entering the Land of Israel for the first

time – also transpired in years where Rosh Hashanah came out on Shabbos.

Why is it that events of such extreme – good or bad – tend to take place

during years when Rosh Hashanah and Shabbos converge? R. Ettlinger suggests

the following powerful explanation.

Shofar is more than just a mitzvah, it is also a lifeline. The sound of the

shofar connects us to the spiritual heroism of *Akedas Yitzchok * and, at

the same time, has the unique ability to “bring” our prayers “*lifnai

v’lifnim*,” to the holiest of heavenly abodes.

We arrive at Rosh Hashanah each year *fa’shmutzed *and sullied by the sins

of the past year and therefore, more than just an obligation, we *need* the

shofar; we desperately need the *zechus*, the great merit, of the shofarto

bring us a new year of blessing.

But what happens when we can’t blow the shofar? What will save us this year?

R. Ettlinger answers that Shabbos can be our *zechus*.

It all depends on how we observe Shabbos over the coming year.

If we carefully observe all of the *mitzvos *and are punctilious in avoiding

the prohibited activities, then Shabbos itself will be our *saneigor*, our

greatest advocate, and usher in a year of great *beracha*.

But if, on the other hand, we aren’t careful in our observance of Shabbos

then we look like fakers. After all, we didn’t blow the shofar because we

were so worried about perhaps, maybe – “*shema ya’avirenu*” – violating

Shabbos; if we fall short in keeping Shabbos over the coming year then it

appears as if our concern on Rosh Hashanah was actually nothing more than a

convenient excuse not to blow the shofar. Such behavior not only leaves us

bereft of the merits of both shofarand Shabbos, but is also a *kateigor*, an

indictment against us of such gravity that it could even lead to the worst

of catastrophes.

And this, maintains R. Ettlinger, is the explanation of the “all-or-nothing”

pattern of Jewish history during years in which Rosh Hashanah fell out on

Shabbos. When we lived up to the demands of Shabbos we merited great

blessing; when we didn’t we paid a difficult price.

It’s important to stress, as well, that technical compliance with all of the

*halachos *of Shabbos – by no means a simple feat – isn’t enough. Beyond

behavior, it’s also a question of attitude.

*Chazal * teach us that we were given Shabbos as a “*matanah tovah*,” a

special gift from God. Similarly, the Chafetz Chayim used to compare Shabbos

to a wedding ring given to symbolize *Hashem’s *special love for *Am Yisroel

*. When Shabbos coincides with a holiday – as it does this Rosh Hashanah –

we repeatedly add the word “*b’ahavah*,” with love, to our prayers, because

Shabbos represents the special love that *Hashem * has for the Jewish

people. And, *lehavdil*, like any other relationship, love expressed must be

reciprocated, and therefore we must observe Shabbos with similar love and

passion.

Unfortunately, I am afraid that too often we lose sight of this critical

dimension. We are increasingly careful about the dos and don’ts, but on this

Rosh Hashanah we must ask ourselves: Do we truly appreciate the beauty of

the Shabbos? Are we genuinely excited for Shabbos? Do we sincerely love

Shabbos?

When observed with passion, Shabbos has the power to recharge our spiritual

batteries and the potential to generate unlimited blessing.

Without the full merit of shofar this year, R. Ettlinger teaches that it is

Shabbos which will determine our success. May we be worthy of this challenge

and may the new year be one of great blessing, filled with health and

happiness, for all of us, the Jewish people, and the entire world. Shanah

Tovah.

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17
Sep

Rabbi David Lapin of iAwaken on Rosh Hashana: The Anatomy of a Cry

by admin in Spiritual Growth

When Poskim (Halachik authorities) have a safek (doubt) about the correct interpretation of a law, there are various formulas by which to resolve it. It is unusual that the Poskim decide to accept all possible interpretations requiring us to practice the law in all of its permutations. Yet in determining the required sounds from the shofar, this is precisely what they have done.

The Torah makes reference to Rosh Hashannah as a Yom Teruah. Teruah is clearly the musical sound produced by a wind instrument. Elsewhere when the Torah talks of the sounds to be blown on the Yom Kippur of the Yoveil year, it refers to a Shofar Teruah implying that the instrument to be used to create the Teruah sound is a Shofar. But what are these musical notes called a Teruah? What does a teruah sound like?

Unkelos translates teruah as yevvava, a cry. So now we know the sound to be made by the shofar is a crying sound. This still leaves us in doubt, because there are two distinct sounds of crying: one can sob and one can wail. Since we have no clear indication which of these two sounds the teruah is, the gemarra decided that we should blow all permutations: a) a wail, that we call shevarim; b) a sob, that we call teruah; and c) a combination of both that we call shevarim-teruah. The gemarra also learns that before and after every teruah (in its different forms) there should be a long unbroken sound of the tekiah.

We use all permutations because the cry of Rosh Hashanah is not just one cry, it is a process of crying in all its evolving forms. It starts with a confident and optimistic cry of triumph, the tekiah. Then it moves into the wail of the shevarim, and breaks into the heartfelt sob of the teruah. It ends with the combination shevarim-teruah. Each cry is preceded and followed by the triumphant tekiah. If we hear these sounds in the right order and in the 100 different phrases determined for each day of Rosh Hashannah, we have technically filled the Torah’s commandment to listen to the Shofar.

But “hearing” is more than the passive absorption of sound into the brain. The word Shemiah that we use in the beracha for the shofar as well as in the famous first sentence of the shemah, is more than hearing. Shemiah is listening, paying attention. What is it that we should listen to, what emotions can the music of the shofar transmit to us?

A cry more than any other sound, elicits emotion. It is hard to hear the cry of a person; adult, child or infant, and not be moved. But some cries are not made out aloud. Sometimes you need to listen to a person’s soul to hear them cry; you need to look into their eyes, see into their hearts, and feel their pain. We often turn away from the cries of others because it is too painful to listen, probe and respond.

We don’t only turn away from the sobs of other. Sometimes our own souls sob and cry out, but our heads are too cluttered with noise to hear them. Personally, the sounds of the shofar are pathways to the sounds of my own soul. They cause me to pause, to hear, and to listen intently. Is my soul crying out? Is it sobbing quietly to itself without me paying any attention to it?

As I concentrate my attention on the depths of my own soul, I hear a faint echo of the shofar’s sounds deep inside me. I hear the triumphant tone of the Tekiah as my soul sees a cosmic picture of an ideal world of Divine presence, peace and justice. It recognizes my potential contribution to that vision and it shouts out a triumphant affirmation, a bright and clear Tekia. Then it sees the cosmic reality, so different from the cosmic ideal. And my soul begins to wail in harmony with millions of other Jewish souls. It wails over a Jewish world that has become superficial and void of deep meaning. Over the study of Torah that too often lacks majesty and relevance. It wails over the practice of Torah that too often denies the essence of deracheha darchei noam (the ways of the Torah are ways of wellbeing and pleasantness). It wails for a world where halacha is ritual rather than service, and learning is an academic endeavor rather than emersion into Divine Intelligence. It wails for unrealized potential. It wails for a world so lost, it wails for the injustice it sees. All around it.

Then the wail becomes a self-focused sob. My soul sobs when it sees how much greater I could be than I am, how much more impactful, how much wiser, how much kinder. It sobs for the love I could have shown and haven’t for the time I could have used and didn’t. It cries for wasted opportunities.

And then, slowly, the sobbing subsides. My soul has noticed that I am hearing it, it realizes that its sobbing has moved me to tears too. The sobbing stops when my soul sees that I feel compelled to make changes in the year ahead and commit to those changes, that I will do what I can to bring the world a little closer to its ideal, and my life a little more dedicated to Avodas and Kiddush Hashem. Once again my soul lets out a triumphant cry: tekiah.

Was that my soul I was listening to, or was it the shofar expertly blown in the shul in which I am davening? I can’t really tell. By this time the sounds of my soul’s cries and those of the shofar have fused. I feel at one with the shofar, at one with the souls of all the other Jewish people pouring their hearts out in prayer. I feel at one with my G-d.

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16
Sep

Timeless: Precious Moments

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Prayer, Spiritual Growth

The Chafetz Chaim had an interesting approach to the Talmudic statement that “Whoever forgets the Torah he has studied has forfeit part of his eternal life.” (Chapters of Our Fathers 3:8) It is commonly understood to refer to someone who does not constantly review what he has learned.

The Chafetz Chaim once visited a Polish village and met an 85-year-old man, who had witnessed a royal visit more than 80 years earlier. The elderly man could not remember much of his life, but he recalled each and every detail of the king’s visit. He described the royal clothes down to the smallest detail. He remembered every word that the kings said when he spoke to the villagers.

The holy rabbi remarked how remarkable it was that a man, who was having difficulty remembering anything from his life, was able to recall so much of something he had witnessed a very long time ago. “The event was so important and precious to him that he never forgot a single detail of something that happened when he was 5 years old. People remember things that are significant to them. We only forget Torah we studied because we did not appreciate the preciousness of what we were learning. That is why it is considered as if he forfeit part of his eternal life: Because he did not adequately appreciate and honor what he was studying at the time he was learning!”

In Zichronot we speak of how God remembers all that we do, think and say. This implies that all of those things are precious enough to God to remember.

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Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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15
Sep

Timeless: The Unexpected

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Spiritual Growth

“It is as difficult for God to provide for all our immediate needs as it was for Him to split the Sea.” (Pesachim 118a)

Just as the Splitting of the Sea was a miracle of the totally unexpected, so too, our needs are provided from a place that is completely hidden and unforeseen. (The Chozeh of Lublin)

We face the coming year with a sense of mystery: Who knows what to expect? We focus on the verses of Zichronot – Timeless Connections – in order to recall how we have always survived on the unanticipated and startling surprises sent by God.

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Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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11
Sep

New Series on TheFoundationStone: Confessions: Achieving Greatness

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Relationships, Spiritual Growth

Confessions: Introduction

Ashamnu

Bagadnu

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Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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11
Sep

Yaakov Dovid Shulman Presents The Aesthetic Fundamental by Rabbi Yosef Rosenheim

by admin in Spiritual Growth

Man’s intellectual soul desires to come to the oneness that hides behind the diversity of the world. He seeks to solve the problem of the world, as a sort of thought experiment, with the help of scientific investigation, based on logic and mathematics. Every systematic scheme, every scientific investigation is ultimately a desire for oneness. In the consciousness of man and the world, willful action constitutes a fundamental fact no less than logical thought. [When willful action is fulfilled,] the relationship of man to his environment becomes actualized. Beyond the dark life of physical desire, he rises to a life with a clear and purposeful will. He senses that his will is free and gives him freedom in direct proportion to the extent that he accepts the ethical authority of the supernal will, the will of God, which alone is a guarantor for his freedom before the world of superficial phenomena.

But between recognition and will is spread a third domain in the life of the human soul, a domain of emotional outlook, which is a feeling of the essential quality that transcends expressive phenomena. This is the source of man’s aesthetic response, just as his rational and ethical responses stem from recognition and will.

The [fulfilled] life of the Jew presupposes an enlightened humanity. The priestly status of the Jewish people blossoms and grows on the ground of humanity. Therefore, it is impossible to simply posit that this priesthood depends on the suppression of the natural powers in the human soul. Really, in the fundamental structure of truth, the aesthetic response has equal value with reason and ethics, which have never been subject to question.

Reason leads to the unity that is behind diversity, that is, to the Creator of the world; ethics leads to the supernal and ethical will, that is, to the King of the universe. And can a Jew still stand without wonder, yearning, and a pounding heart before the beauty of the starry sky, before the dazzling, sprouting season of spring, before the verses of the singer of Tehillim or when gazing at the glowing holiness of the Cohen Gadol? At that time, shining through the phenomena, is expressed the Godly quality of the world of feelings: God’s presence (the Shechinah).

Revelations of God’s Honor and Holiness

The fundamentals of Jewish faith are expressed morning and evening in the K’rias Sh’ma, in the short verses from the mouth of Moshe Rabbeinu in which he explained before his death the inner meaning of a Jew’s life in every generation. The oneness of the Creator (“Havayah”) and Lawgiver of the world (“Elokeinu”) leads to “V’ahavta”: the practical decisions of a life of action. But between this first postulate of all scientific thought and ethical will and between the essentials of a life that draws meaning from it–between “Sh’ma Yisroel” and “V’Ahavta”–our tradition places an ancient and meaningful verse (one that is whispered in secret on all the days of the year and is called aloud on Yom Kippur) as though one could not proceed without it from “Sh’ma” to “V’ahavta”: “Blessed be the Name of the glory of His kingdom for ever.” We say that “the name of the glory of His kingship” is “blessed,” meaning that it will rise and be infinitely strengthened forever.

But what is the meaning of “the name of the glory of His kingdom”? These three words, each clear in its individual meaning, are here linked together to form one concept. “Name” is the conception of a thing, an intellectual understanding. Here, it means knowing God through reason. “Kingdom” is, according to the Kabbalah, the last of God’s qualities, ruling directly over what occurs in the world, require that man accept the yoke of responsibility, “the yoke of the kingdom of heaven.” It is the ethical kingship of God. “Glory” is, I believe (in short) none other than the third fundamental response of the soul to the world: the aesthetic. Here it means, therefore, the aesthetic vision of God’s glory.

Yaacov Dovid Shulman’s Writings can be found at ravkook.net and jewishlights.blogspot.com

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